Skip to main content

Patients at Greater Risk Due to Cancer Drug Shortages

TOP - Daily

Oncology drug shortages increase costs and risks related to cancer treatments

In the first of its kind, a survey aimed specifically at determining the effects of cancer-related drug shortages was conducted by the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association. The national survey of health professionals showed that during an indicated 12-month period, drug shortages interrupted cancer research and increased cancer treatment expenses and risks.

Of the 243 oncology pharmacists and other health professionals who completed the survey, 98% encountered a shortage of at least 1 critical cancer-related drug during the 12-month period. According to survey results, drug shortages caused delays in cancer drug therapy or other changes in treatment for 93% of respondents. Furthermore, 16% of those surveyed attributed drug shortages to cancer progression and additional treatment-related complications.

Because scarcity drives up the price of drugs and also requires additional staff time for management of the problem, shortages resulted in higher medical costs among 85% of those surveyed. Pharmacy staff at about one-third of the surveyed institutions devoted at least 20 hours per week on issues related to the drug shortage.

Survey results also showed that 44% of institutions halted or delayed enrollment in clinical trials due to drug shortages.

Results of the study will be published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

Source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.