Medicine supply chain battles as riots hit pharmacies, distributors | Fin24

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  • Medicine supply chains
    have been hit by riots, with pharmacies and distributors describing
    disruptions caused by looting. 
  • Clicks-owned United
    Pharmaceutical Distributors said it had rolled out a contingency plan to
    get emergency medicines to hospitals. 
  • The pharmacy regulator
    says it has received reports of some 90 pharmacies damaged beyond repair,
    and it is worried about the looting of vaccines. 

Medicine
supply chains were disrupted in KwaZulu-Natal as key distributors, wholesalers
and pharmacies felt the impact of ongoing violence and looting.

Pharmaceutical
retailer Dis-Chem said on Thursday that its pharmacies in the province had remained
closed, while Clicks-owned United Pharmaceutical Distributors said its
warehouse in Mahogany Ridge, KwaZulu-Natal, had been looted.

On
Thursday, Dis-Chem’s vaccination sites, pharmacies and drive-through testing
stations in KwaZulu-Natal also remained closed due to high levels of unrest in
the province.

Dis-Chem
CEO Ivan Saltzman described the situation as “very fluid”. The
group’s priority is to protect its people and assets in order to keep providing
an essential service, he said.

“However,
the supply chain is disrupted and we are unable to move stock from our Durban
distribution centre to our stores,” said Saltzman in a statement. 

Parts
of the N3 highway have been closed as protestors torched trucks over the
weekend.

Dis-Chem
said it was too soon to assess the financial impact of the unrest.

Emergency supplies for hospitals

Trevor McCoy, United Pharmaceutical Distributors Managing
Executive, said a business continuity plan had been implemented to bring in
supplies and emergency medicines from other regional sites, particularly
clinical medicines for hospitals.

United Pharmaceutical Distributors, which is a full-line
wholesaler and supplies pharmacies, hospitals, dispensing doctors, health
services and affiliated healthcare channels, said it is working closely with
local authorities and private security companies to protect its assets and
staff.

“It is too early to determine the full extent of the damage
and financial impact as the situation remains volatile,” said the
pharmaceutical distributor in a statement.

Clicks said though the number fluctuates daily, as of Thursday a total
of 129 of its stores had been closed, 52 looted, and 47 vaccine sites shut
down.

This included 31 store closures and vaccine site shutdowns in
Gauteng, and 85 store closures and 27 vaccine site shutdowns in KwaZulu-Natal.

Vaccination

Saltzman
said that, despite the civil unrest, Dis-Chem was still focused on
administering Covid-19 vaccinations to all eligible people.

It
planned to go ahead with four new mass vaccination sites before the end of
July, it said – one in Mpumalanga, one in Gauteng, and two in the Western Cape.

But
pharmacy regulator, the South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC), said it was
concerned about the looting of Covid-19 vaccines from pharmacies in Gauteng and
KwaZulu-Natal.

SAPC
Chief Executive Officer Vincent Tlala said reports had been received that more
than 90 pharmacies had been destroyed and looted beyond revival, with
KwaZulu-Natal being the hardest hit.

“We
urge those who looted these medicines and health products to not use them. We
are further disappointed at the possible loss of employment,” said Tlala. 



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