Crucial cancer drug imported to fill shortage - health department

2017-01-31 14:08

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Johannesburg – The national health department is importing stock of the key cancer drug, Cisplatin, because its supplier has a "problem" producing it.

Gauteng DA MPL Jack Bloom said on Monday that hospitals in the province had run out of the drug.

It is used to increase the effectiveness of radiation treatment for cervical cancer. It is used in paediatric oncology and prescribed by clinicians in haematology.

"Cancer departments have experienced problems in getting the anti-cancer drug Cisplatin since the beginning of this year. The fault lies with the national health department which issued the tender for this drug from a local company that couldn't supply it," Bloom said.

National health department spokesperson Joe Maila said its supplier, Accord Pharmaceuticals, had a problem producing the drug. It had nothing to do with "poor tendering" as Bloom claimed, Maila said.

Alternative arrangements

"There is no other supplier with sufficient stock and, in our case, stock has been flown in from overseas on a special permit over the period."

Bloom said alternative arrangements had been made to import Cisplatin by February 6. However, he said many cervical cancer patients would suffer because the radiation treatment was less effective without the drug and the cancer could recur.

"I am distressed that supplies of this crucial drug have been disrupted because of the national health department's poor tendering practice for medicine which led to some medicine shortages last year as well.

"Medicine tendering procedures should be improved to ensure that companies can reliably deliver all critical drugs," Bloom said.

Maila said Accord Pharmaceuticals would be able to produce the drugs again and that stock would be available as soon as next week.

The Gauteng health department said its stocks were at a satisfactory level at all its facilities and there was no need for patients to panic.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  cancer  |  health

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