These are some pretty scary numbers quoted here with 14 of the 34 generic drugs being in short supply. By comparison the reference is made to the expensive life extending drugs on the market being plentiful but the generic drugs that cure are getting critically low. In addition cancer care goes up when a name brand drug is used instead and sometimes that is the appropriate choice for a patient but with less expensive generic drugs, more people can be treated overall. A lot of the shortages have to do with marketing and the amount of profit the drug companies see and if losing money they stop making it. BD
Drug Shortages Continue–UCLA Spends 2 Hours A Day Checking on Cancer Drug Availability–ASHP Website Lists All Current Shortages
Of the 34 generic cancer drugs on the market, as of this month, 14 were in short supply. They include drugs that are the mainstay of treatment regimens used to cure leukemia, lymphoma and testicular cancer. As Dr. Michael Link, the president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, recently told me, “If you are a pediatric oncologist, you know how to cure 70 to 80 percent of patients. But without these drugs you are out of business.”
This shortage is even inhibiting research studies that can lead to higher cure rates: enrollment of patients in many clinical trials has been delayed or stopped because the drugs that are in short supply make up the standard regimens to which new treatments are added or compared.
Only the older but curative cancer drugs — drugs that can cost as little as $3 per dose — have become unavailable. Most of these drugs have no substitutes, but, crazy as it seems, in some cases these shortages are forcing doctors to use brand-name drugs at more than 100 times the cost.
You don’t have to be a cynical capitalist to see that the long-term solution is to make the production of generic cancer drugs more profitable. Most of Europe, where brand-name drugs are cheaper than in the United States, while generics are slightly more expensive, has no shortage of these cancer drugs.