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Cape Town - Medicine expenditure among private health care members has increased for the first time since 2011, according to the latest Mediscor Medicine Review results released on Wednesday.

Mediscor PBM managing director Christo Rademan said medicine expenditure increased by 1.9 percent last year.

The pharmaceutical benefit management company examined and analysed medicine use among around 1.7 million private health care members in 2013.

The greatest proportion of these members' budget was spent on acute medicines.

The next most-claimed medicine group was for treatment of prescribed minimum benefit conditions.

Blood pressure medication was the most popular, followed by oncology medicine and diabetes treatment.

Mediscor benefit management manager Madelein Bester said there had been a two percent increase in cost per medicine item.

This was largely attributable to a 5.8 percent approved increase in the maximum price that a medicine could be charged at, known as the single exit price (SEP).

The SEP increase was approved by the health department last year.

“On a positive note the use of generics again increased from 53.4 percent in 2012 to 54.5 percent in 2013,” Bester said.

She said the increased use of generics showed that their cost-effectiveness was being embraced by both medical funds and their members.

What could add to medicine expenditure was the use of new chemical entities (NCE), which were speciality medicines that targeted rare diseases.

These NCEs were costly, at an average price of R747 per unit, because there was no generic version.

“Fortunately, this high cost differential is offset by the fact that only 0.3 percent of all medicines claimed were NCEs and they were not listed among the top 50 products that were claimed,” Bester said. - Sapa