Some members are asking why medical schemes such as Fedhealth are not actively pursuing the acquisition of the vaccine directly from the pharmaceutical companies.
Although the latest news articles state that the Government has not prevented the private sector from procuring the vaccine, it’s important to note that pharma companies like Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Pfizer producing the product are NOT supplying it directly to any private entity global-ly.
The message has been consistent from government and Big Pharma that the manufacturers would only deal with the governments of various countries for their allotted vaccines. Mainly because the pharmaceutical firms are demanding indemnity for any claims arising from the vaccine, but also to ensure that everyone has equal access to the vaccine, to benefit from size and bargaining power, that the correct vaccines are supplied to the country as tested and approved by the governments, and for payment purposes.
The South African situation
Government is necessary for the registration and pricing of all pharmaceutical products in South Africa, for private and state, so it cannot be circumvented.
In South Africa:
• All products have to be approved by SAHPRA
• A medical scheme cannot act as an applicant
• A supplier has to register the product, as the applicant, with SAHPRA/DOH approval
• A supplier can apply for a Section 21, but would still need SAHPRA/DOH approval for bulk purchasing
So at this point, it remains the total responsibility of the South African government to get all its citizens vaccinated. As much as we may want to criticise the government for the poor start to and the issues regarding the rollout, there are many factors that need consideration in this task.
Fedhealth does not purchase medicines or medical products
It’s important to point out that Fedhealth as a healthcare funder doesn’t directly buy any medication or medical equipment for members. We pay suppliers who provide a service to the Scheme – be it prostheses, drugs, implants or glasses – and the COVID-19 vaccines are no exception.