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Majority of Americans unaware of cancer drug shortages

According to a nationally representative survey, 16 percent said they had information about shortages of cancer drugs.


Devdiscourse News Desk 10 Apr 2018, 04:59 AM United States
  • According to a nationally representative survey, 16 percent said they had information about shortages of cancer drugs. Among the cancer survivors, only 31 percent had the idea of drug shortages.(Image Credit:

Majority of  Americans aren't aware of cancer drug shortages that might cause some patients to receive less effective, a US study suggests.

According to a nationally representative survey, 16 percent said they had information about shortages of cancer drugs. Among the cancer survivors, only 31 percent had the idea of drug shortages.

According to lead study author Dr. Zachary Frosch of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston,” For those undergoing cancer treatment, shortage-driven treatment changes have the potential to impact their care.” Even after the ongoing problem, most people aren’t aware of them, he further said via an email.

According to the researchers, cancer drug shortages have become increasingly common in recent years and often involve generic drugs which have no alternatives that are similar in terms of safety and effectiveness.

Shortage of drugs have caused treatment delays, changes in drug regimens, and missed or suboptimal doses.

The online survey conducted in 2016, was done to have an understanding of how often people were aware of shortages, whether they would want to be told about these situations during their own cancer treatment, and whether they might try to seek care somewhere else when faced with a shortage to avoid treatment with a drug that's less effective or one that has more serious side effects.

Participants were more likely to be aware of drug shortages when they were white, older, employed, insured, and had more income and education, the study found.

When people did report an awareness of drug shortages, they most often got this information from the news or the Internet, the study found.

87 percent of participants said they would want to be told about any therapy substitutions caused by drug shortages when alternative medications had major differences in effectiveness or side effects. Most people also wanted to know about minor differences.

Stacie Dusetzina, a researcher at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, said: "Drug shortages are a like recall notices for a car – you might not be aware of them unless they directly impact you. It doesn't surprise me that people are generally unaware of this problem but a lack of awareness obviously doesn't suggest that people are not interested, particularly if it would impact their care."

(With inputs from Reuters)

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