Shortage of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medicines to hit state hospitals

20 September 2019 - 19:05 By KATHARINE CHILD
The health department has admitted that it is facing a severe shortage of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics due to a range of supplier problems. Stock image.
The health department has admitted that it is facing a severe shortage of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics due to a range of supplier problems. Stock image.
Image: 123rf.com/Alexander Raths

Patients needing anti-psychotics or common anti-depressants from state clinics and hospitals may be turned away.

The health department has admitted that it is facing a severe shortage of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics used for schizophrenia, due to a range of supplier problems.

There are also shortages of common anti-depressants such as Prozac and drugs such as generic Lexamil, used for anxiety.

The health department said shortages were because of global shortages of the pharmaceutical ingredients, production problems and industrial action at local production facilities.

The department said in a statement that there are eight companies on tender to produce these medicines and they have been unable to supply the quantities which have been ordered.

The companies are Dezzo Pharmaceuticals, Biotech Pharmaceuticals, Aspen Pharmacare, Gulf Drug, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Cipla, Ranbaxy and Austell.

“This shortage affects all provinces and may also affect availability in the private health sector," the department said.

The most-affected drugs are citalopram, fluoxetine, haloperidol and olanzapine.

The shortage of anti-psychotic drugs amitriptyline, chlorpromazine, clonazepam and risperidone have been addressed in the short term, the department said.

Manufacturers who are not on tender have been selling to the state, but this will not fix the problem.

The department said: “Unfortunately, other manufacturers do not produce the high volumes used in the state and their quantities will be limited.

"We are sourcing stock from other countries where this is available to address the current shortage.

"Medicine shortages are a global problem affecting all countries from time to time. The medicine supply chain is very long and complex ... a breakdown in any part of this chain will result in medicine shortages in a health facility."

The DA’s Jack Bloom raised the alarm on Friday morning, saying: "I am concerned by a shortage of psychiatric drugs in Gauteng hospitals and clinics that is alarming mental health patients."

Bloom said: "Mental health patients are being told that these essential drugs are in short supply, and are either given an inadequate supply or told to come back later. I know of several patients who have gone to various hospitals and clinics trying to get anti-depressant medicine. This is a distressing situation that affects very vulnerable people.

"Before government introduces NHI, there is much they can do to address simple things like managing drug stocks."


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