JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Hospitals across the nation are experiencing drug shortages. More than 200 drugs have made the shortage list. It's a list that has tripled in number over the past five years, including drugs used to treat certain cancers.
"I think it's very serious. It couldn't be worst," said Doctor Mazen Khalil, who is an oncologist at the Clopton Clinic.
He says for the past year, the specialists in his field have been faced with a tough problem. "We've been having a significant shortage in a drug chemotherapy supply that we routinely use to treat certain kinds of cancers," said Khalil. Those among list included chemo drugs used to treat colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. Unfortunately, Region 8 was not spared in the shortage.
"Some of the shortages could be substituted by alternative drugs but others could not. This could not only put the physician in a difficult position, but also compromise the quality of care and some of this treatment is very crucial for the patient.," said Khalil.
Delivering a cancer diagnosis is hard enough for a physician. The treatment shortage just makes it that much harder.
"Having this conversation with patients, it's not an easy thing to do. Having to tell the patient, unfortunately, there is a shortage with this treatment drug. Your treatment can not be given the way it should be. It has to be altered, and this could result in decreased response in treatment and the outcome may not be the way you would like it to be. I mean, it's very difficult for the patient and family to listen to that," said Khalil.
Why is this happening? The Food and Drug Administration reported drug storages related to everything from manufacturing delays to product demand. While Khalil hopes things will turn around, it's not looking good.
"As I read and I hear from colleagues and physicians from some other parts of the country there is more shortages on the way with certain drugs," said Khalil.