2:56 PM EST, February 16, 2012
The shortage of the cancer drug Methotrexate has many of you asking the question: "How could this ever be allowed to happen?" The American Cancer Society is concerned too.
"If it affects patient care and patient health, then American Cancer Society certainly this is something we would want to see addressed," said Keenan Caldwell, the Virginia American Cancer Society's Government Relations Director.
It's a growing concern if folks can't get access to these drugs," Keenan said.
There are a number of different reasons that shortages might happen. "Companies might have manufacturing problems and other regulatory problems," Keenan said. "They're not able to produce drugs not just for cancer patients but for all kinds of drugs."
A company that makes the drug methotrexate shut down one of its facilities at the end of last year. Because of that, the supply of methotrexate may not keep up with the demand. Some hospitals have reported they could run out within two months.
Caldwell said the American Cancer Society is keeping track of shortages and advocating for patients in Washington, DC. "We are working on issues at the Federal level with the Food and Drug Administration to see if there's some legislation that can be put forward that would address the issue," Keenan said.
If legislation is passed, the FDA would have oversight of drug shortages and possibly be able to step in and provide some solutions, Keenan explained.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology is also pushing for legislation that would give the FDA the authority to better manage and prevent shortages.
Methotrexate is used for the most common childhood cancer, a type of leukemia, that's curable if treated. It's also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
"We want to make sure we can find other channels and do what we need to do for the health of Virginians," Keenan said.
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