Johannesburg – The country’s biggest pharmaceutical group‚ Aspen Pharamacare, gave the assurance on Wednesday that it will step in and commit its manufacturing capacity where other suppliers are unable to supply a part or all of their anti-retroviral (ARV) supply commitments.
The group was responding to what it said were widespread reports over the past days and weeks from various state clinics in certain provinces that patients have been unable to access supplies of Tenofovir (TDF)‚ a key ARV used primarily in first-line HIV treatment.
“Due to the negative consequences on both patients and the sustainability of South Africa’s public ARV programme‚ Aspen as the contracted supplier for 70% of the TDF volume to the state‚ takes these reports extremely seriously‚” the group said.
In these reports‚ it said‚ there had been some suggestions that contracted suppliers had been unable to supply TDF timeously‚ or in the required quantities.
To this end‚ it added‚ Aspen was unable to comment on other contracted suppliers of TDF. It did however wish “in the clearest terms”‚ to confirm its own supply position as follows:
• Aspen has met and exceeded‚ both the timing and required quantity for TDF under the terms of its state contract‚ which requires it to supply 70% of the TDF volumes;
• In terms of the contract‚ Aspen is required to supply TDF within six weeks from receipt of orders;
• January 2012 represented the first month that donor-procured TDF had been depleted and the department of health (DOH) returned to normal procurement from its tender contractors;
• Accordingly‚ having regard for its 70%‚ six-week contractual supply obligation‚ Aspen would have been required to supply 3.33 million TDF packs by the end of June 2012.
Aspen confirms that it will have delivered 4.2 million packs‚ or 126% of its required volume, during this period;
• Aspen has met and has had to exceed its supply requirements‚ as shortages from other suppliers have manifested.
In response to these shortages‚ Aspen has swiftly and through considerable resource application scaled up its manufacturing capacity to ensure the supply of 1.13 million TDF packs in May 2012‚ which exceeds the entire May 2012 TDF public sector requirement.
Aspen is also able to supply 1.2 million TDF packs in June 2012‚ which exceeds the entire TDF public sector requirement for the month of June 2012, and
• Aspen can confirm that it presently has no back orders for TDF‚ meaning that no orders in the system exceed the contractual six-week delivery period.
“On this basis‚ Aspen continues to view supply security and the maintenance of the integrity of the South African public ARV programme as a national imperative.
"Aspen also views timeous ARV delivery at the required quantities as non-negotiable.
"To this end‚ Aspen will continue its excellent track record of meeting its ARV supply commitments and where possible to step in and commit its manufacturing capacity where other suppliers are unable to supply a part or all of their supply commitments‚” Aspen said.
In the current tender‚ which commenced on January 1 2011‚ the group said it had stepped in and supplied three other ARV medicines in addition to TDF‚ where other suppliers had experienced supply constraints.