Meeting called to avoid mass medicine shortage

The Health Minister has convened an urgent meeting with pharmaceutical companies and suppliers.

FILE: The Health Minister has convened an urgent meeting with pharmaceutical companies and suppliers.

CAPE TOWN - The Health Department said it has put measures in place to avoid a mass medicine stock out at both private and public facilities.

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi convened an urgent meeting on Friday with executives from pharmaceutical companies and suppliers.

The department said manufacturers have already committed to correcting the problem and plan to deliver all outstanding orders over the next four weeks.

The ministry's spokesperson, Joe Maila said measures are in place to make sure alternative ways are implemented.

"We need to make sure that for the sake of our patients we give them an alternative product that is available in the market and that we do in order to make sure that we don't have shortage of medicine in the country."

Motsoaledi said last month that drug shortages in South Africa were not the result of an uncaring or incompetent government, but rather the pharmaceutical companies that supply medicines.

He added that the global shortages were the result of profit-run pharmaceutical companies.

This follows a series of media reports in May which claimed patients in KwaZulu-Natal were being turned away from clinics because of widespread shortages.

Motsoaledi said the shortage of certain drugs in the country had led to fierce attacks on government despite it being unable to control the distribution of the drugs.

"It is very easy to fiercely attack government for a non-caring attitude, incompetence, cadre deployment and corruption, as claimed in one statement by the Treatment Action Campaign."


He said his department had been quick to investigate claims of a shortage of antiretroviral (ARVs), but said the country has an adequate supply.

At the same time, Doctors Without Borders has said the main reason for drug shortages in South Africa was due to management and logistical challenges between the pharmaceutical companies and clinics.

Meanwhile, department has reiterated there is no shortage of ARVs in the country.

But there has been a global shortage of some medicines, including stock outs of certain anti-biotic.

Maila says ARV supplies have been replenished nationally.

"Now the stock is restored. We got the stock and we will continue to get the stock and we believe that by mid-June other orders will be available."