Friday, November 4, 2011

When there's just one cancer drug left to try and you're stuck on the waiting list -- my Los Angeles Times story on drug shortages.

Northe Olague has lived with ovarian cancer six-plus years, with the help of surgery and multiple chemotherapeutic regimens. Earlier this year, tests indicated that her cancer was growing again. Her doctor recommended Doxil, but by the time she was scheduled for treatment, she learned that the drug was unavailable.

Olague: "I was in disbelief."

Oncologist Michael Link, who leads the largest professional organization of cancer care providers: “It’s unfathomable.”

The drug’s maker, Johnson & Johnson, says the shortage was initially caused by production line problems.  The worldwide supply of the drug is made at a single Ohio plant.  Other chemotherapeutic drugs are also in short supply for various reasons, including supply chain economics and doctors' incentives to prescribe pricey brand-name drugs.