The Democratic Alliance’s Jack Bloom was the first to bring the issue to the fore and this in turn led to an investigation by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which confirmed that there were supply problems.
Bloom said he had discovered that Malvern clinic in east
Johannesburg only has 35 packs although they see 55 Aids patients a day.
‘Instead of giving a 30 day supply, they are only giving ten days and asking the patients to come back,’ he said.
Bloom claimed that at the Hillbrow clinic they only had 300 packs and would run out as about 220 Aids patients were serviced by the pharmacy every day.
‘They are giving patients a one month supply instead of the prescribed three months supply,’ said Bloom.
According to Bonginkosi Mthembu, of the TAC’s Ekurhuleni branch, Leondale Clinic had been out of Efavirenz for two weeks and had been forced to borrow from other clinics. He said Homolog Clinic also ran out of paediatric Efavirenz.
‘These are serious challenges and we need to act quickly,’ Mthembu said.
Nathan Geffen, National Treasurer of the TAC said Bloom’s information had to be taken seriously and investigated
A professional nurse at a state clinic in Pretoria, who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed that they recently experienced a shortage of Tenofovir and that delivery from the main pharmacy had been sub-optimal. She said those patients who had run out of drugs were referred to the hospitals, but that her clinic had since then restored their stocks at the clinic.
Gauteng health department spokesperson Simon Zwane denied that there was a problem, adding that they had addressed recent concerns.’There is no shortage,’ Zwane said, adding that only a few Johannesburg clinics had experienced ‘low’ stocks.
Zwane said part of the complication was that some of the clinics had limited capacity to store drugs and stocks often ran low.
Professor Francois Venter, President of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society said he had been made aware of some of the problems and if the information was correct could lead to ‘resistance in established patients, delayed access to treatment by new patients, undermining of adherence messages and confidence in the public health system’.
Geffem said the TAC in Gauteng conduct a detailed investigation and said any information from health workers would be useful.