Survey: Oncologists Could Benefit from Formal Guidance to Address Drug Shortages

January 10, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


More than 75% of oncologists responding to a survey indicated that shortages in generic chemotherapy drugs have prompted them to make major changes in treatments, such as a switch in the regimen prescribed or the substitution of different drugs partway through treatment, states correspondence published in the December 19, 2013, New England Journal of Medicine. According to the correspondence, from September 2012 to March 2013, researchers surveyed 214 randomly selected U.S. oncologists about the frequency and type of chemotherapy shortages encountered and their impact on the treatment of patients and found that 83% were unable to prescribe the preferred chemotherapy agent because of shortages at least once during the previous six months. The authors note that the drugs associated with shortages most commonly reported by respondents—leucovorin (66%), liposomal doxorubicin (62%), fluorouracil (19%), bleomycin (17%), and cytarabine (16%)—are all integral to curing common malignant conditions such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia as well as for providing palliation for patients with metastatic cancer.

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