Chemo drug shortage could lead to 'inferior care': American Cancer Society

The shortage of several generic forms of chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast, ovarian, lung and bladder cancers, among others, have risen to the level of what amounts to a "public health emergency," Amanda Fader, MD, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a president-elect of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, said in a May 17 New York Times report. 

Further, William Dahut, MD, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said that "if these drugs are not available, people are going to get inferior care. That's the bottom line. These aren't third- or fourth-line drugs where there are multiple other agents around. These are used up front for people you are trying to cure."

The crisis got the attention of the Biden administration, which put together a team to look for ways to solve the pharmaceutical supply chain challenges that are now reaching record highs. Some measures, such as offering tax incentives for generic drug manufacturers to beef up supply, have been floated by the FDA. The agency has expressed concern that it is not equipped to solve financial troubles in the industry, however, such as those that led to the closure of Akorn Pharmaceuticals.

Robert Califf, MD, commissioner of the FDA, spoke before a House of Representatives panel on May 11 and said, "We have got to fix the core economics if we're going to get this situation fixed."

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