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Shortage of medical supplies to be addressed

Pretoria – The National Department of Health says manufacturers of medical supplies have reported that they have already implemented remedial measures to address the shortage of medical supplies to public and private healthcare facilities.

The department said manufacturers have committed to addressing the problem over the next four weeks.

“… They plan to deliver all outstanding orders for the majority of the medicines that are affected,” said the department on Monday.

The department said manufacturers reported this following an urgent meeting convened by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Friday, with 32 executives from pharmaceutical companies and suppliers that have been experiencing difficulties to supply about 155 product lines over the past couple of weeks.

The medicines affected by these shortages include certain antibiotics, cardiovascular medicines, analgesics, anesthetic agents and central nervous system medicines.

“Manufacturers of these medicines had an opportunity to share the reasons for these shortages. Each product faces a specific set of challenges. Nevertheless, these problems could be categorised into three areas:

  • Difficulty with sourcing of the active pharmaceutical ingredient and other raw materials,
  • Unforeseen delays in the formulation and packaging of medicines, and
  • Unanticipated increases in demand for a particular medicine.

The department said the shortage is due to lack of active pharmaceutical ingredients globally. The department said it has joined hands with Pharmaceutical companies to avoid drug stock outs in South Africa’s health system.

“The shortage of medicines is a global problem affecting even the most developed countries including the United States, Canada, European Union and Australia. In South Africa, these shortages have affected both the public and private health sectors,” said the department.

The health department said it will be monitoring the situation and implement other measures necessary to ensure the availability of medicines in the health system.

The department said it has been searching for other global suppliers that may have sufficient stock of these items to assist until supplies are restored.

“Over the next couple of weeks we anticipate receiving these medicines from suppliers outside of South Africa, and we are confident that the supplies will improve.

“During this period of limited supplies, it may be necessary for patients to use a different strength of medicine where their usual prescribed strength is unavailable (e.g. 30 mg tablet is unavailable so take two 15mg tablets) or in some cases using a therapeutic alternative until the usual medicine is back in stock,” said the department.

The department said it will be communicating the details of how to address the shortage of each medicine with health professionals, and will also engage the World Health Organization (WHO) to get guidance, especially on the latest developments with regard to products that are pre-qualified by the organisation, as the department endeavour to source some of this items globally to avoid medicine stock outs in the country.

Meanwhile, the department reiterated that there is no shortage of ARV’s in South Africa, and the supplies of Abacavir is now restored and all back orders will be filled in mid-June. – SAnews.gov.za