Taylor Lee In Hospital

Children With Cancer Face ‘Nightmare Situation’ Chemo Shortage

Can Pfizer make enough chemo in time? That is the question circulating through the childhood cancer world right now; as it is vital in the treatment of many childhood cancers, including lymphomas, leukemias, and even brain tumors. Earlier this year, Teva Pharmaceuticals announced its intentions to discontinue making their generic version of Vincristine, the chemo drug used to cure children of serious cancers.

This poses a HUGE problem for all children facing childhood cancers, as Teva was one of only two companies who manufactures this very scarce drug. This now leaves a lot of pressure on Pfitzer to expedite its production as doctors are warning of a potential shortage, and rationing has begun, multiple news outlets are reporting. This leaves us all in a panic, as it could force many physicians to have to start making some tough decisions on how they should address cancers in their patients. 

“Vincristine is our water. It’s our bread and butter. I can’t think of a disease in childhood cancer that doesn’t use vincristine,” Yoram Unguru, M.D., a pediatric oncologist at the Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore, tells the New York Times.

Unguru also states that the lack of vincristine is a “nightmare situation.”

Although the FDA has known about Teva’s decision to stop producing Vincristine since March of 2019, the true scare comes now, due to Pfizer’s recent manufacturing troubles, which are causing crucial delays. 

This leaves parents across america in a very, very uneasy state. “This is an incredibly scary and awful situation. This medication is VITAL. Kids are starting to miss doses…and if there is one golden rule in oncology, it’s do NOT miss any doses because missing doses increases the potential for relapse,” said Angie Seaton, mother to six year leukemia survivor and OAAT sponsored youth, Emily Seaton.

Pfizer spokesperson Jessica Smith told the Times that the pharmaceutical giant plans to expedite more shipments of the cancer treatment over the next few weeks as part of an effort to meet demand. The company has ramped up its production to “support three to four times our typical production output,” Smith said.

It seems now to be a waiting game; a waiting game everyone wants to end as soon as possible. What are some ways as a community we can impact this current situation? Please leave your thoughts in the comments, as we’d like to band together to spread as much awareness on this topic as possible so that we can get this chemo supply back on track!

Campaign One At A Time is a 501(c)3 non profit charity geared towards providing joy and support to children battling cancer and other life threatening illnesses. To learn more about how you can make a direct impact in the lives of children battling cancer, click here.

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