Story 7 Chemotherapy

An Canadian oncologist reports that in the past few months there have been temporary shortages of certain drugs used in cancer chemotherapy, including Cytarabine (used in leukaemia) and DTIC (used in a variety of diseases including melanoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Often there is only one manufacturer of these older, effective cancer agents.

When these shortages occurred decisions had to be taken to prioritize patients, usually favouring treatment of those more likely to obtain a cure over others.

In her opinion, publishing a list in advance of drugs likely to be in short supply in the future could be useful, but it is not an adequate solution to this problem. Canadian cancer patients should be able to receive the best drug for their conditions when it is needed.