Survey: 90% of oncologists report shortage of cancer drugs

June 6, 2012

In a survey conducted last month, 90.5% of U.S. oncologists reported experiencing shortages of key cancer drugs in their practices, including drugs for prostate cancer.

In a survey conducted last month, 90.5% of U.S. oncologists reported experiencing shortages of key cancer drugs in their practices, including drugs for prostate cancer.

"We have all read about the manufacturing challenges behind the shortages, but I was shocked to find that nearly all our physicians have experienced shortage issues," said Stephen Smith of MDLinx, which conducted the survey. "In an MDLinx survey in the third quarter of 2010, 67% of responding doctors reported patients rationing medications or forgoing treatment due to financial and insurance coverage concerns."

Potentially affected by the shortage are treatment of some of the most common cancers, including cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, and head and neck, as well as various leukemias and lymphomas.

Smith also pointed out that the combination of shortages, insurance limitations, and financial pressures has some patients looking outside the system and tapping into the "gray market" for cancer medications.

The survey of 200 U.S. oncologists also revealed that 42% percent of respondents were concerned with the safety of imported cancer drugs approved on an emergency basis by the FDA, with 31.5% saying they were unsure and only 26% expressing full confidence in the overseas drugs.

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