SA’s medicines regulator has been forced to put in place contingency plans to try and minimise the disruption to essential services caused by protests at the health department’s offices in Pretoria. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) is responsible for ensuring that medicines sold in SA are safe and effective. It is housed in the health department’s Civitas building, where staff have been protesting since April over the poor state of their working environment. On Wednesday, the department was forced to call in the police to ensure staff were able to enter the building in the face of unionised employees picketing at the entrance to the building, according to department spokesperson Popo Maja. The protest action at the building has hampered Sahpra’s day-to-day operations, which include registering medicines and issuing special permits that allow critically ill patients to be treated with unregistered products in an emergency.

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