South Africa: Health Dept Moves to Counter Antidepressant Meds Shortage

22 September 2019

The Department of Health says steps have been taken to address the shortage of certain antidepressant and antipsychotic medicine to ensure that facilities have adequate amounts for their patients.

The department said South Africa is experiencing shortages of certain antidepressants and antipsychotics, which is due to a range of supplier problems, including a shortage of the active pharmaceutical ingredient, production problems and industrial action at local production facilities.

"The products mostly affected by these problems are Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Haloperidol and Olanzapine. The shortages relating to Amitriptyline, Chlorpromazine, Clonazepam and Risperidone have been addressed in the short-term," the department said in a statement.

According to the department, eight companies contracted to produce these medicines have been unable to supply the quantities that have been ordered.

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

The department said the shortage affects all provinces and may also affect availability in the private health sector.

"To address this shortage, we have identified stock from other [non-contracted] manufacturers that we have been purchasing to address the shortfall in supply. Unfortunately, other manufacturers do not produce the high volumes used in the State and their quantities will be limited.

"The department is managing the available stock such that facilities have adequate amounts for their patients. We are sourcing stock from other countries where this is available to address the current shortage," the department explained.

The department noted that medicine shortages are a global problem that affects all countries from time to time.

"The medicine supply chain is very long and complex, begining with the production of base chemicals, synthesis of these chemicals into active pharmaceutical ingredients, production of the pharmaceutical dosage form and, finally transportation of the finished product from the country of production to other countries. A breakdown in any part of this chain will result in medicine shortages in a health facility," the department said.

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