Oncology group revises guidance amid cancer drug shortage

With about a dozen cancer drugs on back order and no clear end to the shortages, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Society of Gynecologic Oncology recently advised clinicians to ration chemotherapy supplies. 

The updated guidelines recommend curbing or halting pharmaceutical treatment for patients with "recurrent, agent-resistant cancers" — which means saving therapies for patients with a better chance of surviving. 

The national cancer care group also recommended extending the time between treatments when appropriate; lessening waste by "optimizing vial size, dose rounding and using multi-use vials"; and providing support services to patients and clinicians experiencing "shortage-related distress."

Two cancer drugs in shortage that treat multiple cancers and cost about $20 per vial, cisplatin and carboplatin, have been in shortage for months. One of the main suppliers for the drugs ended operations in late 2022 after FDA investigators found numerous quality infractions and ruined reporting documents. In another inspection, the agency found more quality issues, which could further delay expected recovery. 

The FDA allowed a China-based drug company to produce and import cisplatin, and the agency is working to boost carboplatin supplies.

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