US Cancer Drug Shortage
A critical drug that treats pediatric cancers is in low supply in the United States. Doctors are describing this situation as a “nightmare.”
Vincristine is used to treat common pediatric cancers such as leukemia, and lymphoma has become increasingly scarce after one of two manufacturers stopped its production in July.
On Friday, the US FDA announced supplies would be fully recovered by January 2020. Still, the medication is now on back-order, and doctors throughout the United States are facing the difficult decision of rationing the drug to their young and sick patients.
US Cancer Drug Shortage- A Major Problem
Dr. Yoram Unguru, a pediatric oncologist at the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital, said that vincristine is the critical drug used to treat pediatric cancer. He added that it is used in almost all child pediatric cancer treatment.
According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, approximately 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the US each year.
Dr. Michael Isakoff at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford said his team treats up to 100 children diagnosed with cancer every year.
According to the US FDA, Teva, one of two manufacturers of the drug, discontinued the manufacture of vincristine earlier this year, consequently leaving Pfizer as the sole supplier of Vincristine in the United States.
Manufacturing problems have led to a delay at Pfizer, therefore, the US Cancer Drug Shortage, the FDA said.
Pfizer, in a statement, said that they would expedite shipping of the drug in the coming weeks and ramp up production to four times what they typically made before Teva withdrew from the market.
US Cancer Drug Shortage would be resolved by 2020 according to the FDA.