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Cancer drug shortages mean higher costs and greater risk for patients
Date:3/21/2013

included time spent trying to find scarce medications to purchase or identify alternatives. Eighty-five percent of respondents reported shortages led to higher medical costs.

Drug shortages also disrupted the clinical trials that are essential for developing new cancer treatments. This survey found that shortages forced 44 percent of institutions to either halt or delay enrollment in clinical trials. The problem also led some providers to change or omit medications.

In this survey, the drugs most frequently reported as being in short supply were fluorouracil, leucovorin, liposomal doxorubicin and paclitaxel. Such shortages hit patients battling ovarian, breast and colorectal cancers particularly hard. For some patients, the survey found shortages meant traveling to other institutions for treatment or receiving alternative medications. For other patients, it meant treatment was delayed or continued with either lower doses of the missing drugs or without the drugs at all.

Ali McBride , Pharm.D., The Ohio State University, is the first and corresponding author. Other authors are Lisa Holle , University of Connecticut; Colleen Westendorf , formerly of University of Kentucky and now of St. Jude; Margaret Sidebottom and Niesha Griffith , Ohio State; and Raymond Muller , Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York.

The study was funded in part by a grant (CA21765) from the National Institutes of Health and ALSAC.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering research and treatment of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The hospital's research has helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancer from less than 20 percent
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SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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