Meds and you

07 February 2018

Capetonians stock up on tummy drugs amid #DayZero diarrhoea fears

As people are preparing for #DayZero, pharmacies are seeing a spike in the sale of gastro-related OTC meds. In some cases stocks are running low.


As the Mother City continues to do its best to delay the arrival of #DayZero, we have no choice but to prepare for that dreadful day. People are seen loading their trolleys with as much bottled water they can lay their hands on. At many shops water is sold out before the end of the day, and the same goes for wet wipes and waterless sanitiser.

But what most of us haven't considered is preparing for those dreadful tummy bugs which may hit us once we're limited to 25l of water person per day.

Medication stocks have dropped

A Dischem dispensary, situated in a popular Cape Town mall, recently ran out of anti-spasmodic (anti-cramp) medication due to people stocking up. The pharmacy manager said that their stock for diarrhoea medication was also running lower than usual.

The manager attributed it to the water crisis the province is experiencing and the fact that people are afraid and preparing for the worst scenario.

Dischem pharmacies director, Niall Hegarty, told Health24 that in the Western Cape they have seen an increase in demand for some gastro-related medicines, compared to the rest of the country.

"We are not experiencing massive out-of-stock situations, but there may be short-term shortages as the depots in the Western Cape have to be refilled from other parts of the country," said Hegarty.

Pharma companies taking note

Health24 spoke to a number of pharmaceutical companies to find out whether they had seen an increase in demand for certain gastro-related products and Aspen Pharmacare CEO, Noel Guliwe, told Health24 that they were fast-tracking them.

"We take the health and wellbeing of our patients very seriously, particularly those who are currently experiencing dire water shortages in the Western Cape.

"As such, we are expediting the dispatch of product to this area in support of mitigating potential risks of increased enteric disease. Increased supplies are expected to be available within one to two weeks,” said Guliwe.

Adcock Ingram, another pharmaceutical company responsible for the manufacture and distribution of medication for gastrointestinal illnesses and enteric diseases, said that they have noticed an increase in sales, but haven't been able to pinpoint the reasons behind it.

Corporate Communications Manager, Kavitha Kalicharan, told Health24, "We have noted an increased demand in the Cape area, but this increase doesn't translate to a significant spike in demand yet.

"There hasn't been a need to move stock from one area to another to address shortages in other areas, but we are closely monitoring the situation."

Added extras

Along with stocking up on medication, many customers are purchasing wet wipes, waterless hand sanitiser and copious amounts of water.

While most stores have started placing limits on how much one may purchase per day, they've started increasing the stock on their shelves.

Hegarty added that they aren’t experiencing chronic out-of-stock situations on soaps, hand sanitisers and wipes, but may experience temporary shortages.

"We have informed all our stores in the Cape region to up levels of all those items."

What has your experience with stocking up been? Have you encountered shortages of any items related to #DayZero? Share your experiences with us at and we may publish your story. Please indicate if you wish to remain anonymous.

Image credit: iStock