ASCO 2021: HOPA Survey Reports Impact of Cancer Drug Shortages


A study from the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting assessed the prevalence of oncology drug shortages and how they hinder care for patients with cancer.

Cancer Concept

A survey from the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting gauged the prevalence of oncology drug shortages and how shortages can hinder care for patients with cancer.

The survey, which aimed to portray the impact that oncology-related drug shortages have across the United States, included responses from health care organizations, resource implications, and insights on how patient safety, patient care, and clinical trials may be affected.

Oncology medications and supportive care products for patients are often in shortage, resulting in disruptions in chemotherapy treatment, as well as interruptions in medication regimens, the study investigators explained.

Investigators circulated the 34-item survey among the Hematology Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) membership to determine the drugs essential to the care of patients with cancer, including supportive care agents. Of the HOPA membership cohort, 68 organizations completed the survey, almost all being pharmacists.

The analysis showed that 63% of respondents reported 1 or more drug shortages per month. The results also showed a 34.33% increase in drug shortage from 2018 to 2019. As for the cost burden, 64% of respondents reported increased costs from the drug shortages, 7% of whom experienced reimbursement issues due to having to switch to brand-name therapies. In addition, 74.63% of respondents experienced treatment delays, reduced doses, or alternative regimens as a result of drug shortages.

“The top 5 oncology drugs on shortage included epirubicin, flutamide, decitabine, mechlorethamine, dactinomycin with the top 5 supportive care drugs on shortage being noted as hydrocortisone, bivalirudin, promethazine, mycophenolate sodium, and scopolamine,” the investigators wrote.

Read more of our coverage of the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting here.


1. Hudson-Disalle S, DeRemer D, Buie LW, et al. National survey on the effect of oncology drug shortages in clinical practice: A Hematology Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA) survey. 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting; June 4-8, 2021; virtual. Accessed June 2, 2021.

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