A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy. File image: Reuters

Pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare said that, in no way, could it condone the reported shortages of Tenofovir (TDF) in certain provinces and hospitals where patients are receiving ARV treatment.

“These reports seem to have manifested again this week and some allegations have emerged that the contracted TDF suppliers are in part responsible for these shortages,” the company said.

Aspen is the leading supplier of ARV’s to SA’s private and public sectors.

The company said that it wanted to clarify a number of issues in light of the news reports.

At a press briefing on Thursday, health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed that the department of health had checked all 10 depots nationally and all 10 had TDF, Aspen said.

The company has the state contract to supply 70% of the required state volume for TDF for a two year period, commencing on January 1, 2011, and ending on December 31, 2012. It is required to deliver within six weeks of confirmation of received orders.

Initial offtakes for TDF during the first year of the tender contract were ‘extremely low’ with monthly orders placed on Aspen averaging around 250,000 monthly treatment packs.

This was largely because donor-fund-procured TDF product displaced much of the tender volumes, it said.

After the donor-fund-procured inventory ran out by December 2011, it became necessary for the current suppliers to respond, ‘by immediately scaling up production’.

“The transition from donor stock to state procured TDF was not a smooth transition, with some provinces and institutions underforecasting demand and-or placing orders either erratically or only once stock levels had dwindled significantly.”

“Consequently, some institutions remained well stocked, while others ran into problems.”

Despite this, Aspen said, the company had placed considerable effort and importance in meeting and exceeding these challenges and was now in a position where it was meeting, and in fact exceeding, its 70% TDF volume contractual obligation. - I-Net Bridge