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Drug shortage linked to greater risk of relapse in young Hodgkin lymphoma patients
Date:12/26/2012

STANFORD, Calif. A national drug shortage has been linked to a higher rate of relapse among children, teenagers and young adults with Hodgkin lymphoma enrolled in a national clinical trial, according to research led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Estimated two-year cancer-free survival for patients enrolled in the study fell from 88 to 75 percent after the drug cyclophosphamide was substituted for mechlorethamine for treatment of patients with intermediate- or high-risk Hodgkin lymphoma. The study was launched before the drug shortages began. The change occurred after a mechlorethamine shortage began in 2009. No study patients have died, but those who relapsed received additional intensive therapy that is associated with higher odds for infertility and other health problems later.

An analysis comparing how patients in each group were faring two years after their cancer diagnoses will appear in the Dec. 27 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The report provides the first evidence of a drug shortage adversely impacting treatment outcomes in specific patients. St. Jude led the study for a national group that includes the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children's Hospital; Massachusetts General Hospital; and Maine Medical Center.

In recent years, many patients and caregivers have had their medical care complicated by drug shortages, primarily of generic injectable drugs like mechlorethamine. Mechlorethamine, which has been used in cancer treatment since the 1960s, has only recently become available again.

Cyclophosphamide has been widely used in treatment of both adults and children with Hodgkin lymphoma. Based on earlier studies, the drug was considered a safe and effective alternative to mechlorethamine.

"This is a devastating example of how drug shortages affect patients and why these sh
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Contact: Robert Dicks
rdicks@lpch.org
650-497-8364
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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