The country's new medicine industry regulator is considering charging a 'backlog fee' to help clear the length of time certain medicines wait to be approved.
The plan by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) is to ensure hundreds of potentially life-saving drugs are made available as soon as possible.
Chairperson of Sahpra, Professor Helen Rees says there are a number of reasons for the backlog.
We do recognise that this did build up over many years and there were many reasons for it, one was the sort of clunky structure that was necessitated under the Medicines Control Council which made things slow - the other one was we were fast tracking a lot of medicines which then clogged the whole system. The third thing, which is a good thing, is that there are a lot of generics now coming into the system.— Professor Helen Rees, Chairperson of Sahpra
Professor Helen Rees says it had been realised for a long time that the [previous] Medicines Control Council needed to update its legislation.
On 1 February this year Sahpra was introduced, it's got a different legislative framework and an extended mandate, so it's now governing things such as medical devices and in vitro diagnostics. It's got a broad mandate and the structure has changed.— Prof Helen Rees, Chairperson Sahpra
Rees added that Sahpra wants to develop an 'in-house' system to improve access to medicines, and is also hoping to align more closely with global regularity authorities to share information.
Listen below to the full interview: