Alleged shortage of cancer drug denied
THE Gauteng Department of Health has denied there is a shortage of a key cancer drug at hospitals, used to increase the effectiveness of radiation treatment.
This, however, is not the case, according to DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom.
He told The Star yesterday that hospitals in Gauteng had run out of a cancer drug used to increase the effectiveness of radiation treatment for cervical cancer.
“Cancer departments have experienced problems in getting the anti-cancer drug Cisplatin since the beginning of this year. The hospitals experiencing this problem are the ones with cancer departments: Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital and Steve Biko Academic Hospital.”
He said the reason there was a shortage lies with the national Health Department, which issued the tender for this drug from a local company that couldn’t supply it. Bloom said an alternative arrangement had however been made to import Cisplatin by February 6.
“Alternative arrangements are being made to import Cisplatin, but many cervical cancer patients will suffer because the radiation treatment is less effective without this drug, and the cancer may recur.”
He said medicine tendering procedures should be improved to ensure companies can reliably deliver all critical drugs.
“I am distressed that supplies of this crucial drug have been disrupted because of the national department’s poor tendering practice for medicine, which led to some medicine shortages last year as well.”
Department of Health spokesperson Steve Mabona, however, said he could confirm and assure the public there was no shortage of the drug, which was also utilised by paediatric oncology, and prescribed by clinicians in haematology.
Mabona said there had, however, been challenges with the supply of the drug, which the department was attending to.
“Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu wishes to assure the public that drug stocks are at a satisfactory level in all our facilities and there is no need to panic.”