Cancer drug shortage impacts hospitals around country

Hospitals around the country, including here in Michigan, are being impacted by a shortage of a drug that treats several cancers. 

"Two drugs are short – one is called Carboplatin and one is called Cisplatin," said Laura Appel, the executive vice president of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. "They are used to treat several types of cancers – for example, bladder, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer."

This shortage started overseas.

"There is a manufacturer overseas that, whether they were unable to continue production or there was a quality issue, it is not clear to me, but they discontinued production," Appel said.

Michigan Health and Hospital Association represents hospitals in the state, and it says the shortage is forcing some Michigan hospitals to pay higher prices

"A hospital that just recently purchased one of these drugs, Cisplatin, usually pays $11 for 100mg of the drugs. They recently purchased the drugs, which is so short, for $550 for 100mg dose," Appel said. 

This price change won’t impact the patient’s wallet

"The cost and copay for patients doesn’t really change," Appel said.

Some hospitals are also looking to see if other prescriptions can be used, and lawmakers from Michigan are also addressing the issue.

"Our congressional delegation who has reached out to the FDA to ask them to do whatever they can," Appel said. "The FDA is investigating what they can do to suspend regulations on importation, so that they can bring the drug in from Europe or other places."

Some are concerned this shortage could lead to a delay in care.

"I haven’t heard of a specific example of a person who has delayed care, but I do know they are managing on a daily basis how to try to avoid any inappropriate delay in care, and I don’t know if they are always successful with that," Appel said. 

Corewell Health released a statement:

"Like other health care organizations across the country, we are experiencing a critical shortage of commonly used chemotherapy drugs. We recognize the importance of these drugs for our patients and their loved ones and are working diligently to source these medications to meet our patients’ needs."