Shortage Looming, Drug Maker Agrees To Release Emergency Supplies Of Kids’ Cancer Drug
A shortage of a drug used to treat children's cancer seems to have been averted for a time as the Food and Drug Administration says it reached an agreement with the drug supplier to release emergency supplies. Elsewhere, rules sometimes force hospitals to throw away scarce drugs.
NPR: Latest Drug Shortage Threatens Children With Leukemia
It's a new kind of brinkmanship for U.S. doctors: caring for patients with life-threatening diseases when the supply of critical drugs threatens to disappear. The latest crisis concerns the old standby cancer drug methotrexate. For six decades, it's made the difference between rapid death and lifelong cure for thousands of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, and a type of bone cancer called osteogenic sarcoma. Many hospitals around the nation are perilously close to running out of a form of methotrexate that's necessary to inject in high doses to treat these forms of cancer (Knox, 2/16).
Chicago Sun-Times: Kids' Cancer-Drug Shortage Averted
The federal Food and Drug Administration says it managed to avert a "crisis" for kids with cancer by preventing a looming shortage of the lifesaving drug methotrexate, a mainstay of treatment for a type of childhood leukemia. The shortage is the latest in a series of serious shortages of cancer medications and other drugs that have frustrated doctors and patients over the past year and a half (Szabo, 2/16).
PBS Newshour: What's Causing a Shortage of Pediatric Cancer Drugs?
The FDA for its part said this afternoon: "This issue has been of the highest priority for the FDA. As of today, Bedford" — that's the maker — "advised FDA it will release emergency supplies. This additional quantity of medicine was produced before the company voluntarily shut down, and the company has worked to ensure that drug was not impacted by the issues that led to the plant shutdown" (Suarez, 2/15).
MSNBC: Amid Shortages, Rules Force Hospitals To Trash Scarce Drugs
Mounting shortages of crucial drugs are creating a new dilemma for the nation's hospital pharmacists, who say they find themselves caught between breaking government rules for storage and safety — or throwing away vital and lifesaving medications. At one hospital in Florida, officials acknowledge they've discarded the scarce cancer drug doxorubicin, even as patients nationwide clamor for treatment. "I'd never want to take a chance with not following the rules," said Alan K. Knudsen, director of pharmacy legal services for Shands HealthCare at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "I wish I didn't have to throw it out" (Aleccia, 2/15).
And doctors are busy rooting out a counterfeit version of a popular cancer drug after the FDA notified some doctors that their practices had purchased the fakes —
Reuters: Doctors Scour Drug Supplies After Fake Avastin Found
A U.S. distributor of phony vials of the widely-used cancer drug Avastin aroused suspicion at doctor's offices as early as July, well before health regulators issued their own warning and sparked new alarm over counterfeit medicines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said this week it notified 19 oncology practices they had purchased drugs from a supplier not approved by the agency, including a counterfeit version of Roche Holding AG's, Avastin, that did not contain the multibillion-dollar drug's active ingredient, bevacizumab (Berkrot, 2/15).