Federal regulators have approved new suppliers for two crucial cancer drugs. That is intended to ease critical shortages adding to fears that patients, particularly children with leukemia, could miss lifesaving treatments.
Even so, there are currently 283 separate prescription drugs in short supply or unavailable nationwide. Regulators and manufacturers say shortages are a long-term problem that will continue to give patients and doctors nightmares.
In its move Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration said it will temporarily allow importation of a replacement drug for Doxil, a drug for recurrent ovarian or bone marrow cancer. The Johnson & Johnson drug hasn't been available for new patients for months because J&J's contract manufacturer had to shut down production over serious quality lapses.
The FDA also has approved a new supplier for a preservative-free version of methotrexate, a crucial drug for children with a type of leukemia called ALL, for lymphomas and for the bone cancer osteosarcoma. The version with preservatives, the one that's been scarce, can be toxic or cause paralysis in children and other patients getting the drug either by injections into spinal cord fluid or at very high doses.