There is a shortage of the life-saving drug amphotericin B across the country. Amphotericin B is on the Essential Drug List and is used to treat cryptococcal meningitis (CM), an AIDS-defining illness with an extremely high mortality rate. Over 7,000 cases of CM are reported annually in South Africa though the actual number of cases is likely much higher. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) is the only company that has registered the drug in South Africa. It is branded as Fungizone.
Partial list of hospitals with stock-outs
- Potchefstroom Hospital has run out of amphotericin B. The hospital is treating 10 patients with CM using fluconazole alone.
- Klerksdorp Hospital was expected to run out yesterday. The hospital was treating five patients as of 24 June.
- Rustenberg Hospital was expected to run out today. The hospital is currently treating at least three patients.
- Mafikeng Hospital has run out, albeit that the hospital was not currently treating CM patients as of 24 June.
- Jooste Hospital was expected to run out today. The hospital is currently treating 3 patients and is trying to source the medicine from surrounding hospitals.
- Helen Joseph Hospital has run out of amphotericin B.
- Johannesburg General Hospital has run out amphotericin B.
Very low stocks have also been reported at Mitchell’s Plain, McCord and Cecilia Makiwane Hospitals.
- BMS must get amphotericin B into South Africa this week.
- BMS must explain properly why the shortage occurred and what steps will be taken to rectify it.
- The Department of Health must work with BMS to get new stocks of amphotericin B to hospitals with shortages this week.Key Oncologics must bring down the price of liposomal amphotericin B (Ambisome) and in the meanwhile donate stocks of this drug to the public health system to assist with the amphotericin B shortage
- Generic companies operating in South Africa must register Amphotericin B here. (Several generics are registered in the United States, for example.) This would reduce the risk of stock-outs.
- BMS via their online contact form, http://www.bms.com/contact/Pages/home.aspx
- Key Oncologics via email, firstname.lastname@example.org