Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

18 June 2012

Tenofovir Shortage Exposes Problems in Health Management in South Africa

via, by Khopotso Bodibe

The recent shortage of a crucial antiretroviral drug, Tenofovir, is but just a symptom of an underlying general problem of health management in South Africa. Part of this is the lack of oversight on drug supplies and availability by the national Health Department.

At the heart of the seven months' long shortage of Tenofovir, which started running out in October last year is nothing else, but poor planning. For the whole of last year, the Health Department had a donated stock of the drug from the United States' government and retained two pharmaceutical companies, Aspen Pharmacare and Sonke Pharmaceuticals to produce a tiny fraction of the supply.

It was only when small quantities of the donated stock of Tenofovir were left that the Health Department urgently requested the two drug manufacturers in November to increase their production and supply 100 % of the stock, with Aspen Pharmacare responsible for producing 70% and Sonke Pharmaceuticals 30% of the required Tenofovir packs for an estimated 1.2 million patients. But the two failed to meet the demand at short notice, leaving patients in dire straits. Director of Section 27 and executive member of the Treatment Action Campaign, Mark Heywood, says this demonstrates a general lack of planning by the Health Department to address drug shortages in the country.

"Planning is absolutely crucial. If I was the Minister of Health, then I would instruct that the relevant official in the Department of Health has a monthly meeting with the pharmaceutical companies, with key people in some of the provinces just to assess on an on-going basis, not necessarily because there's a crisis, but just to make sure that they are looking at what are the drugs are the drugs in the system, are the drugs in the pipeline, are we getting to people, where is the weak point in the chain? If you put that type of system in place, then we wouldn't be facing what we are facing now", according to Heywood.

The recent shortages of Tenofovir, for example, occurred as a result of the Health Department not informing the contracted drug manufacturers in good time that a shortage was looming. Thus, they were not able to produce the required amounts. In addition, Aspen Pharmacare and Sonke Pharmaceuticals neglected to inform the Health Department that producing 1.2 million packs of Tenofovir within the required time would not be possible.

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1 comment:

  1. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.