Drug shortages have existed for several years, but they have recently intensified. The last nine months to a year have been a particularly challenging time, especially for the critical chemotherapy used routinely for the pediatric patients treated at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital every day.
This includes the recent shortage of the drug methotrexate, which is crucial to cure leukemia and other pediatric cancers. St. Jude has been working with colleagues at cancer centers around the country and, due to our proactive efforts to manage drug shortages, our patients have not experienced any clinically significant delays in therapy.
There are indications that the supply of the drug methotrexate may improve sooner than expected, but if these supplies do not increase in the next few weeks, St. Jude may not have adequate amounts for all of our patients; therefore, we are extremely concerned about the methotrexate shortage. We have a variety of options should that be the case, but it is important that, as a leader in treating pediatric ALL, we bring this matter to the attention of regulatory and legislative bodies so they understand the need for swift action.
St. Jude administrative leaders and Pharmaceutical Department faculty members have been at the forefront of bringing national attention to the pediatric cancer drug shortage topic, actively engaging regulatory and legislative bodies.
Last week, William Greene, Pharm.D., Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at St. Jude, provided invited testimony to the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He highlighted the impact these drug shortages have on pediatric care and research and urged Congress to rapidly pass specific legislation (e.g. bills H.R. 2245 and S. 296) to help alleviate these problems.
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