Follow-Up Survey Indicates Cancer Centers Continue to Experience Chemotherapy Shortages

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Larger institutions have continued to treat patients who needed carboplatin or cisplatin; however, the survey results don’t include smaller cancer centers that may face access challenges.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has released results from a follow-up survey indicating that 72% and 59% of the surveyed cancer centers continue to experience shortages of carboplatin and cisplatin, respectively. Overall, 86% of cancer canters reported a shortage of at least 1 type of anti-cancer drug.

Woman receiving chemotherapy treatment

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“Everyone with cancer should have access to the best possible treatment according to the latest evidence and expert consensus guidelines,” said Robert Carlson, MD, chief executive officer of NCCN, in a press release. “Drug shortages aren’t new, but the widespread impact makes this 1 particularly alarming. It is extremely concerning that this situation continues despite significant attention and effort over the past few months. We need enduring solutions in order to safeguard people with cancer and address any disparities in care.”

This follow-up survey from September 2023 follows survey results from June 2023, which indicated that 93% of participating cancer centers were experiencing a shortage of carboplatin, and 70% did not have access to a stable supply of cisplatin. Further, the survey results also presented other key medications that are in short supply, such as methotrexate (66% of institutions), 5-flourouracil (55% of institutions), fludarabine (45% of institutions), and hydrocortisone (41% of institutions).

“These drug shortages are the result of decades of systemic challenges,” said Alyssa Schatz, MSW, senior director of policy and advocacy for NCCN, in the press release. “We recognize that comprehensive solutions take time and we appreciate everyone who has put forth proposals to improve investment in generics and our data infrastructure. At the same time, we have to acknowledge that the cancer drug shortage has been ongoing for months, which is unacceptable for anyone impacted by cancer today. These new survey results remind us that we are still in an ongoing crisis and must respond with appropriate urgency.”

The follow-up survey featured responses from 29 of NCCN’s 33 member institutions, which may inaccurately reflect additional challenges smaller community cancer practices and centers may face when serving rural and marginalized patients. By utilizing strict waste management strategies, most of the institutions had noted they were able to continue treating every patient who needed carboplatin or cisplatin, despite the reduced supply.

“We are grateful for all of the progress that has been made since June, but we won’t rest until we know we can prevent anti-cancer drug shortages from happening in the future,” said Carlson in the press release.

Reference

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. U.S. Cancer Centers Continue to See Chemotherapy Shortages, According to Update from NCCN. News release. October 5, 2023. Accessed October 5, 2023.

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