Cancer Drug Shortages Easing but Still a Challenge, Survey Shows

October 5, 2023

The issue of cancer drug shortages in the U.S. appears to be easing slightly but persists, according to a survey by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). Currently, 86% of participating hospitals are facing at least one shortage of a generic chemotherapy drug, down from 90% in May. Shortages primarily impact two platinum drugs, carboplatin, and cisplatin, used to treat multiple types of cancer. While the shortage of these drugs has decreased since May, a lack of alternative treatments, particularly for children’s cancers, remains concerning. The NCCN attributes these shortages to the unattractive economics of generic drug development and a dysfunctional distribution system for generic drugs in the U.S. They assert that resolving these issues will require significant federal action and changes to legislation surrounding the pharmaceutical supply chain. Despite shortages, most cancer centers have provided necessary treatment through strict waste management and cooperation with hospital pharmacists. However, the situation is more precarious in smaller centers and community settings. The survey also highlighted growing shortages in other cancer drugs.

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[Source: STAT, October 5th, 2023]

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