Cancer drug shortage is complicating treatment, survey finds

The ongoing shortages of numerous oncology medications are causing delays in care for patients at cancer centers, according to a study from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. 

From May 23 through May 31, the organization surveyed 27 cancer centers across the U.S. about the shortages of cisplatin and carboplatin. Twenty-five centers reported shortages of carboplatin, a bladder cancer drug, and 19 said they were short on cisplatin, which is used for multiple cancers. 

Here are six results: 

1. For carboplatin, one cancer center said it had "about 17 days on hand" as of the end of May, and another said "without additional supply in early June, we will have to implement several shortage mitigation strategies."

2. When asked if the cancer center could treat all patients with enough carboplatin, 64 percent said yes, 20 percent said some patients but not all, and 16 percent said no.

3. Eighty-four percent said altered treatment plans involving carboplatin have not been delayed because of re-obtaining prior authorizations. 

4. Of the 21 centers that responded to the question, 100 percent said payers have not denied modified carboplatin treatment plans. 

5. For cisplatin, 70 percent of the centers said they are experiencing a cisplatin shortage, and some said the carboplatin shortage is more severe. 

6. Of the centers that responded, all 19 centers said they have not had to change cisplatin regimens, all 15 said payers have not denied tweaked regimens and all 14 said they have not noted treatment delays because of re-obtaining prior authorizations.

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