Carboplatin and cisplatin are currently in short supply.
More than 90% of cancer centers that responded to a National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) survey are being impacted by the ongoing chemotherapy shortages, according to an NCCN press release.1
Twenty-seven NCCN institutions responded to the survey; 93% percent of respondents reported a shortage of carboplatin, and 70% reported a shortage of cisplatin. These platinum-based chemotherapy medications are used in combination to as systemic therapy, “often with the intent to cure,” for a range of cancers, including lung, breast, and prostate cancer, as well as numerous leukemias and lymphomas. Currently, 100% of the centers that responded are still able to treat patients who require cisplatin without delays or claim denials, but only 64% are able to continue carboplatin regimens in their patients.
Only 40% of centers have received information from manufacturers and suppliers around when carboplatin and cisplatin availability should return.
“This is an unacceptable situation. We are hearing from oncologists and pharmacists across the country who have to scramble to find appropriate alternatives for treating their patients with cancer right now,” said Robert W. Carlson, NCCN CEO.1 “We were relieved by survey results that show patients are still able to get lifesaving care, but it comes at a burden to our overtaxed medical facilities. We need to work together to improve the current situation and prevent it from happening again in the future.”
In a recent statement,2 the NCCN outlined steps that the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry, providers, and payers could each take to prevent and mitigate the impacts of these crucial drug shortages. “The causes and solutions to the recurrent anti-cancer drug shortages that deprive oncology patients of optimal therapy are multiple and fixable,” the statement noted.2 “Effective solutions require a whole of oncology effort if they are to be successful.”
Federal Government: The NCCN is urging the federal government to “assure a regulatory environment that secures a steady supply” of safe and effective core anti-cancer drugs.
Pharmaceutical Industry: Pharmaceutical companies must “accept and act upon the ethical and moral obligation” to ensure a safe and effective supply of these drugs.
Providers: Health care providers must “judiciously utilize available anti-cancer agents prioritized by efficacy, safety, and cost.” Times of shortage require providers to adopt strategies based on “pragmatic drug use and maximal societal impact.”
Payers: Payers must “put patients first and provide flexible and efficient systems” and coverage for alternative therapies to replace drugs that are unavailable, including the authorization of alternative therapies “without burdensome prior authorization systems.”
“These [survey] results demonstrate the widespread impact of the chemotherapy shortage,” said Alyssa Schatz, MSW, senior director of policy and advocacy at NCCN.1 “We hope that by sharing this survey and calling for united action across the oncology community, we can come together to prevent future drug shortages and ensure quality, effective, equitable, and accessible care for all.”