9 June 2015
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has met top bosses in the pharmaceutical industry over a shortage of medical supplies.
There was some panic in South Africa last month after the department published on its website a list of medicines that were out of stock. These shortages have affected the public and private health sectors and are caused by a lack of pharmaceutical ingredients globally.
The urgent meeting took place on 5 June, between Motsoaledi and 32 executives from pharmaceutical companies and suppliers that had had difficulties supplying about 155 product lines over the past couple of weeks, the department said yesterday.
“The medicines affected by these shortages include certain antibiotics, cardiovascular medicines, analgesics, anaesthetic agents and central nervous system medicines.”
Manufacturers of these medicines spoke about the reasons for these shortages. The department said that while each product faced a specific set of challenges, these problems could be categorised into three areas:
- Difficulty with sourcing the active pharmaceutical ingredients and other raw materials;
- Unforeseen delays in the formulation and packaging of medicines; and,
- Unanticipated increases in demand for a particular medicine.
“Manufacturers have reported that they have already implemented remedial measures to correct the problem, and over the next four weeks they plan to deliver all outstanding orders for the majority of the medicines affected.”
The department would monitor the situation and implement other measures needed to ensure the availability of medicines. It had also been searching for other global suppliers that may have sufficient stock of these items to assist until supplies were restored.
“Over the next couple of weeks we anticipate receiving these medicines from suppliers outside South Africa and we are confident that supplies will improve.”
The department said it would also engage the World Health Organization for guidance on products that were pre-qualified by it.
Supplies of the HIV/Aids drug Abacavir had been restored. “The national Department of Health would like to reiterate that in South Africa, there is no shortage of ARVs [antiretrovirals] and the supplies of Abacavir are now restored and all back orders will be filled in mid-June.”
The DA cautiously welcomed the intervention by Motsoaledi to have essential medications flown in, but it said the stock-outs would remain if the department did not stage a lasting intervention.