Frankly speaking about the drug shortage (Part 1)

Thank you in advance for your interest in
this topic and for your commitment to reading a series of blogs which are
required because of the nature of this important topic.

On February 29 and March 1, 2012, I was able to sit as a part of the 59th meeting of the National Cancer Institute Director’s Consumer Liaison Group (DCLG) on the topic of the drug shortage.  I think the most we could have hoped to accomplish during the meeting was a deeper understanding of the issue.  We have all seen, read, or heard stories on this topic from a variety of stakeholder views.  I, personally, have not come across a piece that outlines the issue holistically.

This particular meeting came very close to providing a comprehensive look into the work of many stakeholders and I hope to convey some of that information to you over the next few days in a way that is comprehensive and objective.  My hope is that what you read will motivate you to think about this issue relative to your own situation and that you’ll take action appropriate to you (talk with your healthcare team, write a letter to your representative, forward suggestions for a solution and even just sharing this blog with others to educate them on the issue) however you define it.

Let me start with the conclusion of many of my panel colleagues (myself included).
This is a complex issue and there is no agreement among the experts
about a single cause or solution.  In fact, the issue is more complicated than I realized and there are a number of levers that, when pulled, have an impact on the next step of the channel.  I believe I heard the word “cascade” a number of times which gave me the visual of trying to harness the power of Niagara Falls.

Over the course of the next several days, I
will try to communicate what we heard from each of the following individuals:

Dr. Bruce Chabner, MD, Harvard Medical
School/Massachusetts General Hospital who spoke specifically about the
challenge these shortages pose for the cancer community

Dr. Sherry Glied, PhD, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services who provided the group with an excellent report of
the economic factors of this issue

Dr. Sandra Kweder, MD, U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) who reviewed with us the position of the FDA, their
attempts to find immediate solutions and their thoughts for the future

Dr. Mace Rothenberg, MD, Pfizer Oncology
who shared with us Pfizer’s thoughts around the causes of the shortage and their
actions toward a solution

So as you can see, we have a lot of information to cover in a blog that is, by definition, only a few paragraphs long!  I look forward to working through this with you and certainly hope that I hear your thoughts on this issue. We very much encourage you to respond below and are open to feedback and comments.

Until tomorrow . . . .



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