Cancer drug shortage raising concerns among Arizona patients and doctors

More than a dozen cancer drugs are in short supply and it's already having a significant impact on patient treatments
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 5:59 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- For the past nine months, Brandy Ziede has been showing up every week for chemotherapy treatments in her battle against colon and liver cancer. So the last thing the West Valley mom needs is an unexpected problem with her medication.

“I’m getting four different treatments, so it’s very important,” said Ziede. “I can’t miss treatments, so I definitely need to have confidence in the supply.” The 49-year-old from Surprise is one of many cancer patients feeling uneasy after hearing about a major shortage of cancer drugs nationwide.

Dr. Amol Rakkar is a medical oncologist with Palo Verde Cancer Specialists in Glendale. He said more than a dozen chemotherapy drugs are in short supply, forcing doctors to use different meds, change doses, and alter chemotherapy regimens for many patients. “When you’re a patient, you don’t want to hear that there’s a treatment available, and then now, for some unforeseen reason, we cannot supply it to you,” said Rakkar. “These have been the backbone of treatment for many different cancers, lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, almost every type of common cancer is impacted by this shortage.”

Cancer treatment centers are doing all they can to avoid impacting patients, like seeking new suppliers or borrowing certain meds from other offices. But it’s not enough.

The shortage is blamed on supply chain issues, but Dr. Rakkar is skeptical since the drugs in demand are mostly inexpensive and have been produced in mass quantities for decades. “Whatever the explanation is, at the end of the day, we need these medicines to provide the best treatment in a timely way for our patients,” said Rakkar.

Dignity Health in Arizona released this statement:

HonorHealth released this statement:

The Food and Drug Administration issued a statement saying they are working to address the problem but are unable to require drug manufacturers to increase the supply of a drug or change distribution.

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