The South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) is the regulatory authority of South Africa responsible for the regulation of health products intended for human and animal use; the licensing of manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of medicines, medical devices, radiation emitting devices and radioactive nuclides; and the conduct of clinical trials.
The legislative mandates of SAHPRA are derived from the Constitution; the National Health Act, 2003 (Act No. 61 of 2003); the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act No. 101 of 1965), as amended (hereinafter referred to as “the Medicines Act”); and other relevant legislation, regulations and policies.
Further, SAHPRA’s mandate has expanded to include the regulation and control of radiation emitting devices and radioactive nuclides under the Medicines Act and the Hazardous Substances Act, 1973 (Act No. 15 of 1973).
In terms of the constitutional provisions, the Authority is, amongst others, guided by the following sections and schedules: The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, places obligations on the state to progressively realise socio-economic rights, including access to healthcare.
Section 27 of Chapter 2 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution states the following with regard to healthcare, food, water and social security:
The Act provides a framework for a structured uniform health system within the Republic, taking into account the obligations imposed by the Constitution and other laws on national, provincial and local government with regard to health services. The objectives of the National Health Act (NHA) are to:
The Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act No. 101 of 1965), which was amended by Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 72 of 2008) and Amendment Act, 2015 (Act No. 14 of 2015) and enacted in May 2017, enabled, amongst others, the establishment of SAHPRA, the licensing of manufacturers and importers of active pharmaceutical ingredients, and the regulation of medical devices.
In terms of the Medicines Act, the objectives of the Authority are to provide for the monitoring, evaluation, regulation, investigation, inspection, registration and control of medicines, scheduled substances, medical devices, radiation control, clinical trials and related matters in the public interest. It also provides for registration and control of veterinary medicines in such a way as to ensure that they are produced, distributed and used without compromising human and animal health. Antimicrobials intended for use in animals and registered under the Medicines Act may only be administered or prescribed by a veterinarian.
As per section 2B (1) of the Medicines Act, the Authority must, in order to achieve its objects:
Within the Medicines Act, “medical device” means any instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, appliance, implant, reagent for in vitro use, software, material or other similar or related article, including Group III and IV Hazardous Substances contemplated in the Hazardous Substances Act, 1973 (Act No. 15 of 1973) (hereinafter referred to as “the Hazardous Substances Act”).
The Hazardous Substances Act provides for the efficient, effective and ethical evaluation and registration of non-ionizing radiation emitting devices and radioactive nuclides. It also prohibits and controls the importation, manufacture, sale, use, operation, application, modification, disposal or dumping of substances and (electronic) products that may cause injury or death due to their detrimental direct or indirect effects. The Hazardous Substances Act classifies such substances and products in groups according to the risk associated with them.
A Group I, Group II, Group Ill or Group IV hazardous substance means a substance, mixture of substances, product or material declared in terms of section 2 (1) of the Hazardous Substances Act to be a Group I, Group II, Group III or Group IV hazardous substance, including: