ECHO Remains Focused on Patient Care Despite Drug Shortages
Recently, there has been another drug shortage in the United States – but this time, the stakes are extremely high. There is now an alarming shortage of common cancer treatment agents, which is forcing some oncology doctors to switch medications or delay care. According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, nearly all the centers it recently surveyed were dealing with shortages of carboplatin and cisplatin, a pair of drugs used to treat a range of cancers. Some providers are no longer able to treat patients receiving carboplatin at the intended dose or schedule.
As a leading oncology provider in the eastern part of Connecticut, ECHO is feeling the effects of the shortage but is committed to ensuring that there is no lapse in care. ECHO is diligent and laser-focused on ensuring that their patients continue to receive the drug therapies needed in a timely manner.
Practice Administrator, Anne Slam, explains, “We are extremely focused on making sure that every patient continues to receive optimal treatment for their disease. We are tapping into every possible resource to do so.” She says some of these measures include checking on availability from pharmaceutical supply companies that ECHO has not previously ordered from, and continually calculating doses to ensure adequate supply. In addition, the government recently approved U.S. access to a Chinese pharmaceutical company, which she said may also help in the short term.
Nurse Kristin Watson agrees that the doctors, nurses, and medical dispensary at ECHO have done a good job managing the dwindling drug supply. This includes running daily reports to assess inventory and working with providers to decide the best treatment plan moving forward.
The good news is, according to the National Cancer Network Policy and Advocacy department, there are steps that can be taken by the federal government, pharmaceutical companies, providers, and payers to mitigate any negative impact from the cancer drug shortages. ECHO remains committed to playing an active role in the community, national cancer care network, healthcare arena, and government committees to ensure that changes in healthcare and the political arena do not disrupt patient care.
National Comprehensive Cancer Care Network, June 2023