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Pharma firms get blame for shortages – Courtesy ( Times Live)
Pharma News

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has admitted that his department is facing medicine shortages, which he blamed on cynical business practices and cuts in global supply.

Motsoaledi told journalists at a briefing in Pretoria yesterday that although South Africa had adequate fixed-dose combinations of antiretroviral drugs available, there was a shortage of Abacavir, an antiretroviral used to treat children.

“This shortage is beyond our control,” said Motsoaledi.

“[There is a] problem of drug supply all over the world.

“We source these medicines from companies and their actions and decisions are not always based on the needs of patients but on what makes business sense,” the minister said.

He said the department often placed orders only to find after 42 days that the supplier had no stock. An order was then placed with another company but the drugs would then arrive only after a six-week delay.

Motsoaledi said he expected the shortage of Abacavir to be over by the middle of June.

He said first-line antibiotics, in particular penicillin-based drugs, were also in short supply.

The shortage is affecting not only South Africa but also countries in Europe, and the US and Australia.

The department believes the shortage is attributable to pharmaceutical companies moving away from manufacturing antibiotics in favour of producing drugs on which they can make more profit.

Motsoaledi said his department was trying to devise ways of dealing with shortages of medicines, including using cellphone technology to give early warning of impending shortages.

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