Having a life threatening illness is traumatic enough. But imagine that your doctor then tells you that the only treatment you have is currently unavailable.
That’s what is happening currently in the U.S. for many who rely on critical medications.
The disruption in the American supply chain is now leading to nationwide shortages for numerous drugs, including those that are used to treat COVID-19 and cancer.
In all, the American FDA now lists over 100 medications that are currently in short supply.
The American Medical Association said CBS News that the national drug shortage going on is an “urgent health problem” that “threatens patient safety and care.”
The American Society of Pharmacists said that three of the five worst shortages are drugs that are used for heart conditions and chemotherapy along with antibiotics.
One of these medications is tocilizumab, a drug that treats both cancer and covid-19.
A pharmacy manager at the University of Virginia said to CBS News that the college’s medical center has been faced with the possibility of deciding whether their restricted supply of tocilizumab should be given to people COVID-19 or people with cancer.
The coronavirus pandemic has allegedly made drug shortages an even more common problem.
The FDA watches the medical supply chain with the expectation that it might be impacted by the pandemic, possibly leading to supply shortages and problems.
One of the reasons for this is that over 80 percent of current pharmaceutical ingredients are made overseas. Some hospitals are now struggling to meet the demand, while others stay well-stocked.
A 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology study Annual Meeting looked at the great prevalence of oncology drug shortages and how they harm the care for those with cancer.
The study found that the top five oncology drugs with a shortage were flutamide, epirubicin, decitabine, dactinomycin, and mechlorethamine.
Dr. Melissa Dillmon, an oncologist and previous chairwoman of the government relations committee at ASCO, stated that one of the most alarming and recent drug shortages is Abraxane.
“It is a chemotherapy that is used for pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer,” Dillmon said. “It is well tolerated, with less side effects. Without any warning, there was suddenly a national shortage.”
Over the previous few weeks, a shortage of Abraxene forced some Alaskan chemotherapy patients to postpone the lifesaving treatment.
Jeremy Kahn, a media officer with the FDA, said that his agency is “committed to partnering with public health partners, distributors, and manufacturers to help deal with the shortages.”
Author: Blake Ambrose