FDA Supply Chain Chief Says Cancer, Not Can'tcer

By Freddie Pierce
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will address emergency shortages of cancer drugs with superior logistics. “A drug sho...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will address emergency shortages of cancer drugs with superior logistics.

“A drug shortage can be a frightening prospect for patients and President Obama made it clear that preventing these shortages from happening is a top priority of his administration," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.. “Through the collaborative work of FDA, industry, and other stakeholders, patients and families waiting for these products or anxious about their availability should now be able to get the medication they need.”

Essentially, this will mean the emergency importation of compatible cancer drugs that have not yet been approved by the FDA.  The supply chain will be strengthened at the expense of scientific and bureaucratic imperative. 

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It’s an emergency measure meant to address recent shortages in life-saving cancer drugs, with some patients of ovarian and other cancers going a month without medication.  Since demand for approved domestic brands outstrips supply, the FDA is ostensibly making a muscular gesture to enforce patient safety at all costs.

Those costs, some Cassandras warn, may be that very safety.  But the FDA is standing firmly behind its decision.

“The actions announced today will help to boost the supply of some of the most badly needed cancer drugs by patients across the country,” Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society stated, according to the media outlet. “It is critical that the FDA ensure that the added supply of these drugs is safe and made easily available to the patients who urgently need them.”

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