In Case of 2 Cancer Drug Shortages, Relief

FDA OKs imports of doxorubicin, methotrexate substitutes
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2012 11:38 AM CST
In Case of 2 Cancer Drug Shortages, Relief
Children suffering from leukemia wear a mask.   (Getty Images)

Though the FDA cautions that "we're not out of the woods," it today announced that dangerous shortages of two cancer drugs are being addressed. Stores of the drugs in question—doxorubicin and methotrexate—became dangerously low after the company that made them closed its Ohio manufacturing facility over product safety concerns. Lipodox, a drug out of India similar to doxorubicin, has been OKed for shipment and will be used in the treatment of ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma.

A preservative-free methotrexate, used to treat childhood leukemia, is being shipped from Australia. The New York Times reports that a month's supply is en route, and should arrive in hospitals today. It's good news, but it's "at best a Band-Aid approach to the problem," says the chair of the Children's Oncology Group, who notes that many drugs are in short supply. "It doesn’t give me a whole lot of comfort that we’ve moved past one or two of these shortages. What about the next one? And the one after that?" The Times notes that the FDA has fast-tracked approval of a 2010 application by another drug company to produce methotrexate. It was one of many applications that have languished due to a lack of government funding for reviewing applications or inspecting facilities. (Read more leukemia stories.)

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