U.S. cancer centers continue to see chemotherapy shortages, according to update from NCCN

Oct. 6, 2023
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network found access to carboplatin and cisplatin has improved, but only slightly since the organization released initial survey results in June; other anti-cancer drugs remain scarce as well.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has released a follow-up survey on the ongoing chemotherapy shortages: 72% of the centers surveyed continue to experience a shortage of carboplatin and 59% are still seeing a shortage of cisplatin. Overall, 86% of centers surveyed reported experiencing a shortage of at least one type of anti-cancer drug.

The NCCN Best Practices Committee originally shared survey results in June 2023, which found that 93% of cancer centers surveyed at that time were experiencing a shortage of carboplatin and 70% lacked a steady supply of cisplatin. NCCN’s follow-up survey was conducted September 6 – 27, 2023.

Both surveys focused on two platinum-based generic chemotherapy medications that are recommended for treating hundreds of different cancer scenarios according to the NCCN Drugs & Biologics Compendium (NCCN Compendium). The searchable database features every recommended use for cancer medication found in any of the evidence-based, expert consensus recommendations in the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines)—the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer management.

The September 2023 survey included responses from 29 out of NCCN’s 33 Member Institutions—all leading academic centers from across the United States, which may not reflect any additional challenges experienced by smaller community practices serving rural and marginalized patients. Nearly all reported being able to continue treating every patient who needs carboplatin or cisplatin, despite lowered supply, primarily by implementing strict waste management strategies.

The survey results also revealed several other key medications that are currently in short supply, including 66% reporting a shortage of methotrexate, 55% for 5-flourouracil, 45% for fludarabine, and 41% for hydrocortisone.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) release on Newswise

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