Patients Respond to the Ongoing Chemo Drug Shortage


We recently asked our audience of patients, survivors and caregivers about the ongoing cisplatin and carboplatin shortage. Here’s what they had to say.

infographic of drug shortage quote

Many patients and providers are facing difficult decisions as the United States continues to experience a shortage of common and inexpensive cancer treatments, namely the platinumbased chemotherapies, cisplatin and carboplatin.

In a poll of 27 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) cancer treatment centers, 93% reported that they were experiencing a carboplatin shortage, and 70% were completing a cisplatin shortage. While 100% of centers, polled, said that they were able to treat patients with cisplatin without any delays or claim denials, that was the case for only 64% of centers when it came to carboplatin therapy.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently collaborated with the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) to craft clinical guidelines for oncology providers who are treating patients with these agents. The guidelines include re-prioritizing the use of the drugs that are in limited supply, increasing the time between treatments to make the available drug last longer, selecting alternative regimens (when applicable) and more.

In addition, ASCO published disease-specific guidance for patients with breast, gastrointestinal bladder, testicular, gynecologic, head and neck and thoracic cancers. But even with this guidance in place, there are still difficult decisions to be made by health care providers, which can also lead to important — though uncomfortable — conversations between patients and their care teams.

To get a better pulse on how the cancer community is feeling about the shortage, we recently asked the following #CUREConnect question to our social media audience of patients, survivors and caregivers to those with cancer: What are your thoughts on the chemotherapy shortage and how it might affect cancer care?

Here is what people had to say:

A Problem with Prioritizing Patients and Additional Stressors

“It’s scary to think of a shortage of life saving drugs. I recently completed 18 rounds of carboplatin and Taxol.”

— Linda R.

“Just when things couldn’t get any worse! I can’t imagine being told I’m not a ‘priority’ and not receiving treatment my insurance covers … and the poor (doctors). How do they make the criteria for prioritizing? (This) sounds like the organ transplant list they have. Hope we find an answer soon.”

— Brandil B.

“It’s essential the US brings drug manufacturing back. Cancer patients are being ‘prioritized’ on who will receive treatment. What an awful thing for a (doctor) to have to tell a patient fighting cancer. Imagine the feelings of the patient hearing they aren’t priority and won’t receive treatment.”

— Diane M.

“It shouldn't be an extra stressor on a cancer patient. I've been keeping an eye on it knowing full well it could impact me. It’s been frustrating asking my doctors about safeguards when the response is minimal.”

— Katie T.

Potential Silver Linings and Opportunities for New Treatments

“It impacted me personally. They stopped my chemo early (because) they didn't have any carboplatin to give me, which I'm already in remission so I was thrilled about it.”

— Stephanie Y. “

(The chemotherapy shortage is) very scary. I haven’t heard a lot about it, but this could steer patients to some of the more encouraging treatments involving immunologics. I don’t think there are many more positives, and this is a less than ideal way to get more clinical trial participation, but it could result in some very positive things.”

— John F.

“Maybe a good time to look for solutions that work and don’t damage people’s bodies permanently?”

— Instagram user, “Z”

More coverage on the chemotherapy drug shortage:

Here’s How One Cancer Center Is Handling the Chemo Shortage

Chemo Drug Shortage Requires a ‘Holistic Solution’

Expert Discusses Chemo Shortage: ‘Likely to Last’ 3 to 4 Months

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