Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption on prescribed medication will not apply if pharmacists recommend alternative medications when they do not have the one prescribed by the doctor.
Consumer Council of Fiji chief executive Seema Shandil whilst confirming this, said consumers must exercise caution and do comparative shopping to ensure they shop at a pharmacy that has the medication prescribed by their doctor to ensure the VAT exemption applies.
“At times, when the medication prescribed by the doctor is not available in stock, certain pharmacies recommend alternative medication which serves the same function as the prescribed medication. It is important for consumers to be aware that VAT exemptions only apply on prescribed medications and not the alternatives,”
Shandil further emphasized the importance of consumers being able to benefit from the exemption.
“The VAT exemption is intended to reduce the financial burden on consumers when purchasing essential prescribed medication. It is crucial that pharmacists adhere to the original prescription and not suggest alternative drugs without the consent of the prescribing doctor or without clearly informing consumers that they will not quality for VAT exemption on the alternative medications.”
She said pharmacies and consumers must also note that the VAT exemption on prescribed medication will apply to successive repeat prescriptions and not only single-purchase prescriptions.
“It has been discovered that certain pharmacies intend to charge VAT on repeat prescriptions for successive purchases and will only pass on the exemption on the first purchase.”
“Pharmacies are also reminded to apply the VAT exemption on electronic prescriptions and not only hard copies.”
Consumers are urged to be proactive and informed when dealing with their health needs.
“By ensuring to shop at a pharmacy that has the prescribed medication and holding on to their hard copy prescription receipts, consumers can easily avoid unnecessary challenges in ensuring the VAT exemption is applicable to the prescribed medications.”
Consumers who encounter issues with VAT exemption on prescribed medication or any other consumer-related concerns are urged to report such instances to the Council.