Doctors alter cancer treatments to accommodate drug scarcity - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Doctors alter cancer treatments to accommodate drug scarcity

SAN DIEGO (KSND/NBC) - Doctors and cancer patients are struggling with a nationwide shortage of medications.

Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer patients are in critically short supply.

Dr. Rupa Subramanian specializes in breast cancer. The backbone of her treatment is Taxol, but for the last year it's been in dangerously low supply.

"Whenever possible, if we are anticipating a shortage, then we will start with a different regimen that does not incorporate Taxol, for instance," she said.

Delaying treatment to accommodate the shortage, even by just one week, is often not on option.

"We've really been talking to our nurses and our case managers. They've been planning ahead by looking at how much drug would be needed, anticipating the volume that we have," Subramanian said.

The FDA monitors drug shortages, and there are currently hundreds on a national list.

Reasons range from increased demand to manufacturing delays, to no reason at all.

In a recent New York Times op-ed, a doctor suggests that because the cancer drugs are now generic, and therefore less profitable, manufacturers are not producing as much supply as before.

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