Chemotherapy Drug Shortages Persist With No Real End in Sight


Shortages of chemotherapy drugs continue to plague the healthcare industry.

Drug shortages

As was first reported on OncLive more than 6 months ago, shortages of chemotherapy drugs continue to plague the healthcare industry (Community Facing Severe Drug Shortages). Paclitaxel (Taxol) is the latest to join the 196 other drugs on a shortage list compiled by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

Cynthia Reilly, director of the practice development division for the ASHP, said in an ABC News story that the growing number of drugs in short supply puts the United States is in “a public health crisis.” The paclitaxel shortage is especially problematic because unlike some other chemotherapy drugs, it cannot be easily substituted. Reilly warned that the drug shortage will impact patients’ survival and some may even die as a result of this shortage.

A spokeswoman for the FDA stated that the generic manufacturers of paclitaxel still had some of the drug in stock, so it is not considered a “complete national outage.” One supplier claims that it will have supplies of paclitaxel available by the end of June, while another expects “some constraint through the summer.” It is not clear why the shortages occurred in the first place.

For more on this several-years-in-the-making crisis, see Matthew T. Corso’s story from the March issue of Oncology & Biotech News (Crisis Averted: Manufacturers Scurry to Meet Demand for Drugs).

Allen JE. Chemo drug taxol shortage puts cancer patients at risk. ABC News. June 23, 2011. ABC News. Accessed June 23, 2011.

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