Cancer drug shortage slightly eases

The national shortage of multiple cancer therapies is marginally improving compared to early summer, according to an Oct. 5 update from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. 

In May, the organization surveyed 27 cancer centers about their supply levels of cisplatin and carboplatin — two staple chemotherapies used for multiple cancers — and 25 said they were experiencing shortages. Four months later, the scope of the monthslong shortages is slightly better. 

The latest survey found that 72% of the centers were short on carboplatin and 59% continue to report a cisplatin shortage. Overall, 86% of centers surveyed reported experiencing a shortage of at least one type of anti-cancer drug.

In the previous survey, 93% of cancer centers were facing a carboplatin shortage and 70% "lacked a steady supply of cisplatin," the NCCN said. 

In mid-September, the White House declared the nation's cisplatin shortage was nearly over after the U.S. imported lots from China and domestic drugmakers ramped up production. Around the same time, a Novartis prostate cancer drug, Pluvicto (lutetium lu-177 vipivotide tetraxetan) injection, returned to normal supply levels after falling into shortage in March.  

A few other cancer drugs have recently joined the pile of ongoing shortages, though, including vinblastine — a lymphoma therapy that does not have an equal alternative.

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