Some oncologists are rationing cancer drugs as shortages grow

Some oncologists are rationing cancer drugs and delaying patient treatment as the shortages grow worse, NBC News reported May 28.

As of May 24, the FDA listed 14 cancer drugs in shortage. Among the drugs in shortage is carboplatin, a chemotherapy agent used as a first-line treatment for various cancers.

"I don't know of a time that's worse than this," Julie Gralow, MD, chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, told NBC News. "What's different about this shortage is it's just the broad applicability of these drugs, how important they are, you know, globally, in the U.S., in the treatment of many diseases."  

A May survey by the Society of Gynecologic Oncology found physicians in at least 40 states had at least one chemotherapy drug in shortage.

Physicians at Florida Cancer Specialists have been rationing carboplatin for months by rounding down doses by 10 percent, but now they have no more of the drug. Like many others, they're waiting to get more prescriptions filled, often delaying treatment for patients until the drug comes in.

The shortages are in part due to a single manufacturer in India that halted production due to quality concerns. In a statement to NBC News, Intas Pharmaceuticals said it is working with the FDA to release existing carboplatin and other medically necessary products. It is working with the agency to resume manufacturing but does not know when that may happen.

In the meantime, the FDA is working with additional manufacturers to make more carboplatin available, according to the report.

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