Gauteng hospitals ran out of key cancer drug: DA


File image of Cisplatin intravenous concentration

JOHANNESBURG - Hospitals in Gauteng ran out of a key cancer drug that is used to increase the effectiveness of radiation treatment for cervical cancer, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday.

READ: Cervical cancer tests delay in Gauteng worrying: DA

“Cancer departments have experienced problems in getting the anti-cancer drug Cisplatin since the beginning of this year and the fault lies with the national health department which issued the tender for this drug from a local company that couldn’t supply it,” DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said.

Bloom said the alternative arrangements were being made to import Cisplatin by February 6, but many cervical cancer patients will suffer because the radiation treatment was less effective without the drug and the cancer may recur.

Basic steps in electrochemotherapy treatment. (Wikimedia Commons)

“I am distressed that supplies of this crucial drug have been disrupted because of the national health department’s poor tendering practice for medicine which led to some medicine shortages last year as well. Medicine tendering procedures should be improved to ensure that companies can reliably deliver all critical drugs.”

However, the Gauteng Department of Health assured the public that there was no shortage of Cisplatin — used to increase the effectiveness of radiation treatment for cervical cancer, and also utilised by paediatric oncology, and prescribed by clinicians in haematology.

“There are indeed challenges with supply of the drug, which National Department of Health is attending to and the Gauteng Health MEC Ms Qedani Mahlangu wishes to assure the public that drug stocks are at satisfactory level in all our facilities and there is no need to panic,” said spokesperson Steve Mabona.