Algarve hospitals under fire for lack of cancer meds

The Algarve hospital administration (CHA) is again under fire over delays in the stock of much-needed cancer medicines.

José Eduardo Paulino, the nephew of a cancer patient at Faro Hospital, spoke to the press last week after his uncle failed to receive a painkilling injection for the second time since November.

According to Paulino, the two men have to travel around 140km every two weeks to pick up the medication, but on Wednesday (January 21) they left the hospital empty-handed. The same thing had already happened two months earlier.

“We waste hours waiting only to be told finally that they don’t have what we came for,” the nephew told Lusa.

Paulino added that this happens to other patients as well, and rejected the CHA’s excuse that there were delays in the delivery of the medicine.

Meantime, the CHA said that while it laments the irritation caused to patients, there are no health consequences as long as the injection is received within the next four to five days, which CHA boss Pedro Nunes assured happened in both these cases.

He explained that the drug, Octreotide, is developed exclusively by one laboratory and has to be transported under “a certain temperature”, which can lead to hold-ups.

Nunes denied the issue was due to financial difficulties, guaranteeing that “no patient has been, or will be, deprived of his/her medication” because of financial problems.

Last February, Portimão cancer patient Maria João Reis Deus called attention to the fact that there were delays in “life-saving medication”. She even planned protests in Faro and Portimão, but was stopped when she was assured the delays would not happen again (see story

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