Lack of Cancer Drug Caused 'Shocking' Teen Relapses
Cancer expert slaps 'ridiculous situation'
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 27, 2012 2:52 AM CST
Cancer relapses in teens have been linked to drug shortages.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The dangerous effects of US drug shortages have been made all too clear in a new study. In 2010, sufferers of Hodgkin's lymphoma—who tend to be teenagers—suffered relapses that were likely due to limited supply of mechlorethamine, a generic medication used to treat the cancer. When substitutes were used in its place, "the difference (was) just shocking," says the study's author. "We thought the alternative was just as safe, of course, so it was a real surprise when we reviewed the data."

Researchers reviewed relapse rates in 181 patients who received mechlorethamine and 40 patients who got a substitute, USA Today reports. The shortage, which ended in October, came as the drug's maker struggled to find a contractor to manufacture it in a new location. "This is a ridiculous situation for the industry that leads the world in 21st-century meds but can't provide 1960s drugs," says a cancer expert. "The essential fact is that generic drugs are a low-profit industry, making it less attractive to drug makers."

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Showing 3 of 4 comments
Dec 27, 2012 9:21 PM CST
Do you blame pharmaceutical companies? A day does not go by that I don't see a national ad for some class action suit thats in the billions or even trillions. Remember when we had the same problem with the flu vaccines? The government had to give them an exemption to liability just for them to start making it again. Maybe they need this for cancer drugs. Hey, if you make a drug, it passes the FDA testing, and it works, and a few people die from it, you can loose all profits from that drug to a few victims to the tune of hundreds of millions each. We need a liability change in the nation in regards to drugs. Put a cap on awards. Nobody needs more than $1M for a drug caused injury. Limit lawyer pay to $100,000 per patient. They don't deserve to make hundreds of millions on drug cases.
Dec 27, 2012 6:56 PM CST
Nationalize this "industry."
Dec 27, 2012 4:03 AM CST
Looks like big Pharm got some free guiana pigs that they did not have to pay for.