Stamford Health says patients not being turned away despite cancer drug shortage

There's a concerning shortage of chemotherapy drugs in our state and across the country.

Mark Sudol

Jun 14, 2023, 9:32 PM

Updated 350 days ago


The American Cancer Society estimates over 20,000 new cancer cases in Connecticut this year alone.
But there's a concerning shortage of chemotherapy drugs in our state and across the country.
"It really has hit the peak at this point," said director of Pharmacy Services at Stamford Health Sokhak So.
Cancer drugs, including widely used cisplatin and carboplatin, are in such short supply that doctors in some parts of the country are rationing care or asking patients to drive long distances for treatment.
Pharmacists at Stamford Health say they are doing everything they can to ensure there is no disruption in care.
"If we come to a situation that we're not able to secure it, then we work with our prescriber to identify potential alternatives of what we can do to mitigate the issue. We have not had to send patients away," said So.
Most of the generic drugs are manufactured overseas.
There were shortages of cisplatin in January and then carboplatin in March, after a factory in India that makes both drugs halted production after an inspection flagged quality concerns.
"We've had a couple of different scenarios where we've had to try to find alternatives of different chemotherapies perhaps like if we have an intravenous formulation of the chemotherapy, we sometimes have to do an oral formulation instead," said Stamford Health Hematology Oncologist Anthony Gulati.
An FDA spokesman said the agency is working to ensure a safe drug supply chain in the face of the current challenges.
"I only see the problem increasing over the years to come unless we take a federal stand in regards to how we can incentivize manufacturers to enter the generic markets," said So.
"If there's some pressure from the legislative bodies to companies to make these drugs hopefully, we won't ever get to the point where we're not able to give the treatment that we actually want to give," said Gulati.
The shortages are fueling a debate in Congress over expanding the FDA's authority so the agency can hold some of these manufacturers accountable.
The FDA this month temporarily allowed imports of a non-FDA-approved version of a generic drug manufactured in China to ease some of the shortage.

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