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Cancer Drug Running Short In Anchorage

From UPI Health News (Business) (November 21, 2010)

Anchorage, Alaska, is running out of a chemotherapy drug, hindering care for cancer patients, a doctor said.

Doxorubicin, a generic drug also known as adriamycin, is a common treatment for some breast cancers and lymphomas, Dr. Greg Marino, director of hematology-oncology at Alaska Native Medical Center, told the Anchorage Daily News. It can cut the risk of recurrence, he said.

"This is terrible," Marino said. "You don’t expect this is 2010 in the United States of America."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is seeing "a record number of shortages" this year, said Valerie Jensen of the FDA’s drug shortage program.

Most shortages are for injectable medications, including three for cancer, she said.

In a recent MSNBC online story, Jensen said 40 percent of the shortages are due to manufacturing problems, 20 percent because a firm stops making a drug and 20 percent from production delays. The basic cause, she said, is the drugs are not as profitable as newer ones.

The FDA cannot make companies produce any particular drug. One of three makers of doxorubicin had manufacturing delays, and the other two are trying to compensate, Jensen said.


Posted: November 2010