There are 14 cancer drugs in short supply in the United States

There Are 14 Cancer Drugs In Short Supply In The United States

Chicago- The cancer sector faces a shortage of certain drugs, 14 of them in the United States, which has forced the industry to adapt and encourage national production and imports so as not to accentuate delays in vital treatments for patients.

It is not the first time it happens. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the peak in the United States was reached in 2011 with 250 drugs of all kinds in total, compared to the current 137, including those 14 oncological.

But there is a higher than normal level that has put the sector on alert and that the FDA attributes to three factors: quality problems in manufacturing, an increase in certain drugs during the pandemic and the fact that some manufacturers of both Vaccines and drugs are faced with the dilemma of choosing which of them to give priority to.


At the annual congress of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the main one in the sector and which is held from last Friday to this Tuesday in Chicago, that red flag has waved among its protagonists.

“We are asking pharmaceutical companies in the short term to share more information about any shortages with the FDA and healthcare professionals. ASCO is also talking to legislators and requesting long-term solutions, such as incentivizing production,” the association’s medical director, Julie Gralow, said in a statement sent to EFE.

In the list of the 14 cancer drugs with limited reserves there were two recent entries: cisplatin was added on February 10 and carboplatin on April 28.

One of the companies that manufactures them, the pharmaceutical company Accord, for example, temporarily ceased distribution, and although others continued to produce cisplatin, they did not do so in a sufficient quantity to cover the demand of the US market, the FDA explained to EFE.

The road map on how to move forward in the face of lack of reserves is clear: do not waste doses, minimize or omit the affected drug, increase the interval between cycles, reduce the total dose of treatment when clinically possible and even offer advice to those patients who are distressed by scarcity.

The president of the American Cancer Society, Karen Knudsen, warned in mid-May that this shortage “has become a serious and potentially fatal problem for cancer patients throughout the country” because some of the drugs involved do not have an effective substitute.

“We urge the industry to work with medical professionals to help them identify alternatives where possible to ensure that treatments are not delayed. (…) Delays can worsen the results, ”she warned.

The main companies in the sector attended the Chicago congress, which is held in the gigantic McCormick Place convention center, the largest in North America.

Among them Pfizer, which to compensate for the lack of carboplatin from others says it is providing the largest amount of this drug in its history and continues to explore options “to contribute even more.”

The executive vice president of AstraZeneca’s Oncology division, Dave Fredrickson, tells EFE for his part that the situation has affected them indirectly.

“I’m happy to say that right now we don’t have shortage issues, but it’s quite challenging with some chemotherapy therapies that are used in many of the tumor types that we’re very active in. After the pandemic, a lot of progress was made in starting to carry out routine screenings and controls and it is a shame that there is a shortage right now, ”he said.

In joint efforts to correct the situation, the FDA insists on the need for transparency. Companies are not required to notify you of supply disruptions, such as difficulties in obtaining raw materials, and they are not required to notify you of increases in demand.

But that body also urges them to do so in order to mitigate or avoid the impact on availability in time.

“Although it is difficult to predict how long the problem may last, we are doing everything we can to fix it. (…) Many countries are going through a similar situation and we regularly talk with our counterparts to share information and see what can be done ”, she concludes.



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