Please watch this informative webinar hosted by the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer and the Alliance for Childhood Cancer and led by Dr. Peter Adamson, Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group. Dr. Adamson shared information the COG has received along with a perspective on childhood cancer drug shortages, including the current situation with vincristine. The two organizations offered this webinar so that the community could have a better understanding of the shortage, how to work with care providers, how to contact the FDA when problems arise from the shortage, and advocacy steps being taken.
The recent news about a shortage of vincristine is most alarming. This is because vincristine is the chemotherapy drug most widely used to fight pediatric cancers. It has been approved to treat children with cancer for over 50 years and is a critical component of treatment regimens for children with leukemias, lymphoma, brain tumors, bone tumors, neuroblastoma, Wilms tumor, and rhabdomyosarcoma.
Parents of children with cancer are rightfully concerned with the shortage because there is no alternative or substitute for the drug. This means that hospitals and doctors are being forced to ration the drug by lowering dosages for some patients or having them skip administration of it completely.
Drug shortages are not uncommon in the United States. But a shortage of the most commonly used chemotherapy drug for children represents a crisis. Currently, the drug has only one manufacturer in the United States, making almost all pediatric cancer patients completely dependent on their supply. Any disruption of their manufacturing process in the future could create the same situation.
CURE Childhood Cancer is a part of the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer (CAC2), who has created a working group in conjunction with the Alliance for Childhood Cancer. This group is intended to guide action through this crisis, as well as work to ensure it doesn’t reoccur. We feel it is imperative that the childhood cancer community work together as one voice to combat this issue.
Dr. Peter Adamson, Chair of the Children’s Oncology Group has responded to our concerns in this letter.
At this time, the most important call to action is solely for families affected by the shortage: Families immediately impacted should contact the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not directly impacted by the shortage, please do not use this email. Use of the email for purposes of complaint or advocacy will only delay action to the parents who need access.
For the longer term, Dr. Adamson writes:
In my view, as related efforts are developed for longer term, economic policy solutions, we need to focus on solutions for today’s children with cancer. In the upcoming days and weeks, I am hopeful we can arrive at focused action items for advocacy solutions that have the goal of guaranteeing cancer drug supplies for children in the United States. Proposals that could be enacted in a reasonable time frame for today’s children that merit consideration include but are not limited to (1) establishment and maintenance of a national stockpile of key cancer drugs used for the treatment of children with cancer and (2) US government purchasing contracts that provide a guaranteed buyer and may help stabilize a fragile market.
CURE Childhood Cancer is committed to keeping you up to date on the progress of the vincristine shortage, and through our partners at CAC2, we will work to ensure all children fighting cancer have an adequate supply of necessary medication. As we learn appropriate advocacy steps, we will share them here and on Facebook and Twitter.