Drug Shortage

Shortage of cisplatin for injection

Spacefilling model of cisplatin contributed to Wikimedia by Benjah-bmm27

The American Society of Health-System reports a shortage of cisplatin for injection. Alone or in combinations with other drugs, cisplatin is used to treat ovarian, testicular and bladder cancers which have advanced and spread in the body. In the case of bladder cancer, two-thirds of the people affected can be cured in a early stage of the disease by the BCG vaccine. The unfortunate third would likely receive injectable cisplatin if surgery and radiation therapy are inadequate to effect a cure. The vaccine is difficult to impossible to obtain at present, creating another group that needs an alternate therapy.

The ASHP has published guidelines for healthcare systems faced with drug shortages. Drug shortages are both initiated and aggravated when hospital systems make poor decisions about their drug inventory. Rumors and foreknowledge of shortages and impending price increases drive hoarding and stockpiling of pharmaceuticals. In this instance one of the manufacturers, Teva, is combatting this tendency by only allowing its customers to purchase cisplatin in the quantities they have used in the past. This practice is known as allocation. The ASHP urges restraint by systems purchasers in the face of what must be considerable internal pressure from the physicians and administrators of healthcare systems, and external pressure from patients.

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