Survey details toll of cancer drug shortages

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 3, 2012

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Cancer patients are feeling the consequences of national drug shortages, according to a survey by the Community Oncology Alliance.

Polling 200 member oncology practices composed of 525 doctors nationwide, the alliance found that nearly all of the respondents said they had experienced a shortage in the past 12 months. As a result of these shortages, survey respondents reported rapid progressions of cancer and severe side effects in a majority of their patients.

Nearly 60% of respondents said shortages in cancer drugs were increasing, and almost half were seeing drug shortage issues daily in at least one or more patients. “Over 80% of the patients and over 90% of the practices affected by a cancer drug shortage also experienced a more severe financial burden,” the survey stated.

Economics are at the core of these shortages, said Ted Okon, COA’s executive director. “The Medicare system for reimbursing for cancer drugs has created pricing instability. That has resulted in disincentives for manufacturers to produce these low-cost but vital generic cancer drugs, as well as to invest in manufacturing facilities for these products.”

Note: This item originally appeared at

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