Tons of expired medications have been destroyed in the Eastern Cape, health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said.
Nineteen tons of medicines were destroyed after an internal audit found that expired medication had piled up in hospitals, clinics and depots across the province, he said.
It is a norm to dispose of expired medicine; it is not unique to the Eastern Cape. We are not embarrassed.
Kupelo said change in treatment of illness resulted in the increased volumes of expired medication because the old drugs were no longer used.
Not fit for consummation
What must we do with expired medication; we cannot give it out to people? Disposing expired medication is not waste.
Kupelo said 16 tons of medicine worth R5 million was also destroyed after it was damaged when a fire broke at the Mthatha depot in April.
The medication had not expired; it was not fit for human consummation.
Most of the medication that had accumulated was destroyed in a period of seven months.
The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape said stock control policies needed to be reviewed to ensure that medicine was not destroyed but distributed.
Clinics short of medication
If the most simple of stock control measures were exercised then millions of rands' worth of medication could have been redistributed to clinics across the Eastern Cape, said John Cupido, acting spokesman on health.
He said clinics across the province, especially in rural areas, were known for being short of much-needed medication and often being without medication at all for months at a time.
Proper stock control and subsequent redistribution of medication would mean the medication will be put to good use well before their expiry dates.
(Sapa, November 2011)