Health Minister: Business profits behind drug shortage

Aaron Motsoaledi said a shortage of drugs is the result of profit-run pharmaceutical companies.

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi gives his reflection on the days events. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Sunday said a shortage of drugs in South Africa and worldwide is the result of profit-run pharmaceutical companies who do not distribute medicine based on the needs of the patient.

This follows media reports on the shortage of certain drugs, particularly ARV's in KwaZulu-Natal.

Motsoaledi has appealed to the media to assist his department in facing the worldwide problem of drugs shortages by disclosing the names of patients who seek help.

While Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi admits there is a shortage of a drug called Abacavir used to treat children, he says the shortage is due to factors beyond his control.

"In this problem of drug supply, all over the world, is that, the sales of these medicines are from companies that are in business."

He says he hopes that drug stocks will be driven by the public sector, based on patients' needs, and not a business model in the future.

Motsoaledi says South Africa is especially vulnerable to logistical problems in distributing ARV drugs as 30 percent of those on treatment globally are in South Africa.