Consumers should be aware that VAT will apply for non-prescription (no prescription from the doctor) or over-the-counter medicines. Patients with chronic illness that are on “repeat” medications are also required to pay VAT if they appear in the Pharmacy without their prescription.
To avoid VAT on repeat medication, consumers must make a copy of the prescription where doctor has prescribed repeat medication or request the pharmacy for the original prescription which they can use later to buy the repeat medications.
It is generally seen that consumers with chronic illness who are on prescribed medicines appear at the Pharmacy for same medicine without their prescription. Prescriptions are generally valid for 3 – 6 months. Most pharmacies will know if a patient is on regular medication based on records they keep and will provide these when patients present themselves at the pharmacy for repeats. However, in such cases consumers are expected to pay VAT.
Consumers should also know that if the doctor prescribed over-the-counter medicines which are clearly stated on the prescription than consumers are not expected to pay VAT. Medicines that are issued on a doctor’s prescription are zero rated and thus no VAT should be charged by the pharmacies or chemists.
Consumers should expect price variations for both price controlled and non-regulated medicines. Price variations with price controlled medicines may have to do with different costs as medicines are often imported from more than one source manufacturer or country. The variation in landed cost of medicines will certainly be reflected in the approved maximum retail prices.
Consumers are urged to view the Fiji Commerce Commission (FCC) price control list that pharmacies are required to display at their premises. Consumers should take their time and look at the list for the prices of medicines and ensure they are paying the correct price. Pharmacies should provide the list for easy access to consumers.
Meanwhile, the Council wishes to reassure consumers that it does monitor prices of medicines and trade practices in the pharmaceutical sector. We regularly take action when we find bad trade practices or non-compliance. The Council liaises with the relevant enforcement agency if further action is warranted.
Ms. Premila Kumar
Chief Executive Officer