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US Doctors Struggle with Severe Cancer Drug Shortages: Critical Cancer Treatment at Risk

US Doctors Struggle with Severe Cancer Drug Shortages: Critical Cancer Treatment at Risk

The United States is presently facing the most critical chemotherapy drug shortage faced in three decades. The main drug that is in shortage is carboplatin, a generic chemotherapy medication mainly used in the treatment of various cancers. This has left the doctors with the difficult task of administering other strong drugs with harmful side effects to the patients which leads to crucial medications.

 Factors Leading to the Crisis

Many experts have pointed out the reasons for the drug shortage. A major factor was the closure of the Indian plant that supplied cisplatin materials to all US manufacturers. This was mainly due to quality concerns. This led to an increase in demand for the cisplatin material. According to the US FDA report of this week, there is a shortage of over 130 drugs in short supply. Out of which 14 of them are used for cancer treatment.

Effect on Healthcare Providers and Patients 

This shortage of cancer drugs is felt by the patients and the healthcare providers. Many patients have been forced to extend the time period between chemotherapy sessions, interrupting treatment schedules. Patients had to undergo so many difficulties. As they had to wait for a long time or travel a long distance to alternative cancer centers. The scarcity of these vital drugs has placed a huge burden on individuals already fighting cancer.

Generic Drug Economics and Incentives

These shortages mainly occur as a result of the low cost of manufacturing generic front-line cancer drugs. Even though this drug is less expensive to produce, pharmaceutical companies lack the financial conditions to manufacture these drugs on a large scale

The low cost of generic front-line cancer drugs has actually played a role in recurrent chemotherapy drug shortages, experts say.

While the medications are cheap to manufacture, pharmaceutical companies are not incentivized to do so because they don’t bring in large profits, said Dr. Karen Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society.

Long-Term Solutions for the shortage

The FDA has recently started working with a Chinese manufacturer to import one of the chemotherapy drugs to ease the drug shortage. However, medical experts are of the view that the government should work with the private sector to develop national strategic reserves of critical medicines. They should motivate and incentivize high-quality pharmaceutical companies to engage in production. 

The move will likely help solve some short-term supply constraints in the coming months, but it will do little to address a more cyclical problem of chemotherapy drug shortages, said Dr. Knudsen.

The US healthcare system is facing a severe shortage of chemotherapy drugs, namely carboplatin, and cisplatin. It is the responsibility of the government, private sector, and pharmaceutical companies to ensure a stable supply of critical medications. They should make sure that the patients receive the drugs they desperately need.

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