FDA Makes Plans to Correct Cancer-Drug Shortages in the U.S.

Emergency efforts will keep the flow of lifesaving drugs to American doctors.

.shock/Shutterstock

Drug shortages in the U.S. have been an ongoing concern over the last couple of years, and have come to a head in recent months. Two cancer drugs in particular, Doxil (doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome injection) and the life-saving methotrexate are in short supply, but the FDA has made plans they say should swiftly reverse the situation.

Shortages of the medications worsened when a major manufacturing plant, Ben Venue Laboratories, shut down production due to safety concerns. To make up for the deficit, the FDA has decided to allow imports of a Doxil substitute, called Lipodox (doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome injection), which will apparently meet demand over the coming weeks. To address the methotrexate shortage, the Agency has approved another manufacturer to import a preservative-free generic version of the cancer drug to boost supplies.

Doxil is used to treat several forms of cancer, including ovarian cancer when other methods have failed. Methotrexate is also used for multiple cancer types as well as other diseases like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Last October, President Obama issued an Executive Order to address the dwindling drug supply, immediately followed by the FDA's own letter to drug manufacturers, urging them to notify the government of possible shortages early on. Since that time, 114 shortages have been prevented, which is a large portion of the 195 shortages prevented over the entire year.

Doxil is used to treat several forms of cancer, including ovarian cancer when other methods have failed. Methotrexate is also used for multiple cancer types as well as other diseases like psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. The FDA says that the preservative-free form of the drug is required for injections into the fluid around the brain and spinal cord, and to treat osteosarcoma, a serious form of bone cancer.

"Through the collaborative work of FDA, industry, and other stakeholders, patients and families waiting for these products or anxious about their availability should now be able to get the medication they need," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.


This article originally appeared on TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Alice G. Walton, PhD, is a health journalist and an editor at The Doctor Will See You Now.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

Just In