Cancer drug shortages hit close to home - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Cancer drug shortages hit close to home

Amarillo, Texas---The shortage of popular cancer drugs continues to plague people not just here in the Panhandle, but across the nation.

Drugs used to treat patients with breast, colon and lung cancers, along with leukemia are running thin.

"We're scrambling to get the drugs we need," Pharmacist Cathy Coberly told NewsChannel 10 over the summer. "We're calling and having to borrow back and forth between the hospitals."

Some doctors say the problem has only escalated.

"Sometimes that's a production problem, sometimes they can't get the raw materials or sometimes it's a problem with the factory," Dr. Vance Esler with Texas Oncology said.

Whatever the problem may be, this news doesn't come as music to Mark Schoenveld, whose 8-month old daughter has leukemia.

"It's tough but I hope they figure out a way," Schoenveld said. "The fact of the matter is it's curable. There's a lot of cancers that are not curable."

That cure depends on a drug called Methotrexate, just one of many cancer drugs in short supply.

Another problem hits breast cancer patients.

Just recently, a fake version of Avastin surfaced in the U.S.

It's still unclear how much of it remains in circulation, or if the phony version ever made it to Texas.

What remains known tonight is that Avastin is one of the very few cancer drugs that is not in short supply right now.

"It is still going to be on the market and still going to be used," Dr. Srini Reddy with Texas Oncology said.

The real version of Avastin has a label in English that has the word "Genetech" printed.

The fake version has a french label saying "Roche" on the front.

An investigation is still ongoing.

The more drug shortages we see, the higher the cost becomes to get prescribed that medication.

That's when we're told we will start seeing a lot of off brand and counterfeit versions being sold on the market.

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