USA —Prominent U.S. cancer centers are grappling with a growing shortage of common cancer treatments, which has led doctors to resort to medication switches and delays in care, the Associated Press reports.

According to a survey conducted by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, nearly all the centers surveyed in late May reported shortages of carboplatin and cisplatin, two drugs widely used in the treatment of various cancers.

Some centers have been unable to administer carboplatin to patients at the prescribed dosage and schedule.

Dr. Kari Wisinski, a breast cancer specialist at the UW Health Carbone Cancer Center in Madison, Wisconsin, and a member of the network expressed the challenges faced by physicians when discussing the unavailability of prescribed medications with patients and their families.

She mentioned resorting to alternative treatments and rearranging drug combinations, hopeful that a better supply of carboplatin would be available within three months.

“It’s really difficult as a physician to have these conversations with a family or a patient about not having a medication you’d like to prescribe to them,” Dr. Wisinski shared.

While Wisinski commended the efforts of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in managing the drug supply at her center, she acknowledged that it has diverted their attention from other aspects of patient care.

Among the 27 cancer centers that responded to the network’s survey, 25 reported shortages of carboplatin.

More than a third of the centers experiencing carboplatin shortages stated their inability to administer the drug according to the intended dosage and schedule.

Additionally, 19 hospitals reported shortages of cisplatin, but all were able to maintain ongoing treatments for existing patients.

Mike Ganio, a researcher specializing in drug shortages at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, noted the rapid escalation of the problem, transitioning from a shortage to a severe shortage within a short period.

The factory in India responsible for manufacturing both carboplatin and cisplatin temporarily ceased production earlier this year following quality concerns raised during an inspection.

The shortage of prescription drugs in the United States is attributed to manufacturing issues, unexpected surges in demand, and limited supplies of ingredients.

This year, patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have encountered difficulties obtaining Adderall prescriptions, and drugstores faced shortages of children’s medicines during the previous winter’s cold-and-flu season.

According to the University of Utah Drug Information Service, there were 301 active national drug shortages in the first quarter of this year alone.

To mitigate the chemotherapy shortage, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the temporary importation of foreign-approved versions of cisplatin from FDA-registered factories.

While this measure provides some relief, the key solution lies in restoring full production capacity at the Indian factory, explained Ganio.

He emphasized that drug supply shortages have persisted for decades and stressed the need to address the root causes to prevent their recurrence.

“We really need to get at the root causes of these shortages or they’re going to continue happening,” Ganio cautioned.

For all the latest healthcare industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, and YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and like us on Facebook.