• U.S. experiencing shortage of key drug used to treat childhood cancers

    By: Michael Spears


    SEATTLE - A U.S. shortage of vincristine, a critical chemotherapy drug that's used to treat many types of childhood cancer, has some hospitals warning that doctors may be forced to ration doses to pediatric patients.

    The Food and Drug Administration said the next shipments of vincristine are expected to go at the end of October and anticipates the drug shortage will extend into December and January.

    Seattle Children's Hospital tells KIRO 7 it has enough supply to last through mid-November and anticipates receiving a shipment before supplies run out. However, a spokesperson said the hospital would ration doses to patients, if necessary.

    Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma said it's still stocked with vincristine. A spokesperson did not immediately respond with details on when the hospital's current supply would run out.

    Pfizer is now the only supplier of the drug in the U.S. and has dealt with manufacturing delays, according to the FDA, that said Teva Pharmaceutical Industries "made a business decision" earlier this year to stop making the drug. There's no substitute.

    Danielle Wilder said her son was treated with vincristine at Seattle Children's Hospital during seven of his 13 rounds of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer at 12 years old.

    "It was definitely a very trying time," said Wilder. "If [vincristine] wasn't part of his chemotherapy regimen, I don't know that he would've been able to achieve the same results that he has – that he's cancer free and it's not coming back."

    A Pfizer spokesperson told KIRO 7, "Due to a competitor's outage, we are expediting additional shipments of this critical product over the next few weeks to support three to four times our typical production output..."

    Teva Pharmaceutical Industries said in a statement to KIRO 7, "Availability of Teva product has not contributed to the shortage that is being experienced today…"


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