Thursday, August 22, 2013

Doctors worried about cancer drug shortage

It has been 17 months since I wrote a feature story about the drug shortage crisis in South Florida and, unfortunately, the problem has persisted for cancer drugs.

The American Journal of Managed Care released an article on Monday detailing a shortage of cancer drugs that has lingered for more than two years. It was based on studies presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Of the oncologists and hematologists surveyed by the University of Pennsylvania, 94 percent said their patients’ treatment had been affected by drug shortages between March and September of 2012. Of those who were impacted, 83 percent said they couldn’t provide standard chemotherapy at some point and 13 percent said patient participation in clinical trials had been compromised.

Doctors often responded by using different treatments or drugs, delaying treatment, skipping doses or reducing doses, according to the survey. However, some of the replacement drugs may not have enough clinical trial evidence or their ideal dosage amounts isn't clear, ASCO said.

South Florida medical providers told me similar things about impacts to patient care last year.
The ASCO told the American Journal of Managed Care that manufacturing plant closures and quality problems, industry consolidation and lack of access to ingredients are among the reasons for drug shortages. Another factor is the low Medicare reimbursement rate for certain generic drugs.

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