The DA said on Tuesday it had received complaints of medicine shortages in Gauteng hospitals and clinics.

This was despite a pledge by Gauteng health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe that problems at a medical depot were being rectified, DA spokesman Jack Bloom said.

Helen Joseph Hospital had run out of several medicines, including peritoneal dialysis dialysate, used by patients with chronic renal failure.

A shortage of salmeterol inhalers affected asthma patients and those with chronic obstructive airways disease. These patients were becoming symptomatic as winter was approaching.

The hospital had also run out of furosemide, a crucial diuretic used to treat cardiac and renal failure, in 40mg tablets. Instead, outpatients were receiving 125mg tablets – a dose three times higher than the one prescribed, and potentially life-threatening.

Some clinics were running out of insulin and chemotherapy drugs.

Problems with a national tender had resulted in a shortage of certain antiretrovirals.

“Unpaid suppliers is a major part of the problem in Gauteng, but also inefficiency in ordering and holding sufficient stock,” said Bloom.

“The Gauteng health department must rectify medicine shortages urgently as patient care is being compromised.”

Provincial health spokesman Simon Zwane said the national department was attending to the ARV shortage.

“We are starting to receive them now. We are interacting with the pharmaceutical companies to speed up deliveries where necessary.” – Sapa