Al­leged short­age of cancer drug de­nied

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - HEIDI GIOKOS Heidi.giokos@inl.co.za

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.”

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