If you rely on Taxol to treat your cancer, you may be in trouble. Several Georgia cancer facilities are reporting difficulty in obtaining some cancer drugs.
According to the FDA:
"We are continuing to see these increased numbers for shortages, especially for older sterile injectable drugs," said Valerie Jensen, director of the FDA Drug Shortages Program. "These drugs are mainly used in hospitals and include cancer drugs, drugs needed for patients undergoing surgery and emergency drugs."
The reasons for the shortages vary. Some drug manufacturers are discontinuing older drugs and replacing them with newer ones, which are usually more profitable, according to the FDA. They are also recalling some drugs because of quality problems.
Dr. Bancroft Lesesne, chief executive officer and president of Georgia Cancer Specialists, said the drugs affected are most commonly used in breast, lung, lymphoma and colon cancer treatments. "There's a standard treatment we might recommend to a patient based on the disease and the stage," he said. "If the drugs aren't available we have to make substitutions. We think they're just as effective but you can never be quite sure."
"I don't see [the shortages] getting any better," he said. "One drug will become available and then there's a shortage of another. It's seems to be a moving target."
This is a serious problem for Georgia cancer patients.
Many health insurance policies issued today do not cover brand name drugs. Plans issued by Blue Cross, Golden Rule and many others include a drug discount plan, not real insurance.
The only thing worse than discovering your cancer drug is unavailable, is not being able to pay for it because you tried saving a few premium dollars by purchasing an inadequate health insurance plan.