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Few Americans know the shortage of anti-cancer drugs

(Reuters Health) – Most Americans are unaware of the shortage of cancer drugs that could lead some patients to receive less effective or more toxic treatments, suggests a US study. UU

In a nationally representative survey of 420 adults, only 16 percent said they knew about the scarcity of cancer medications, the researchers found.

Even among cancer survivors, only 31 percent were aware of the shortage of medications.

"For those who undergo cancer treatment, changes in treatment driven by scarcity have the potential to affect their care," said the study's lead author, Dr. Zachary Frosch, of Dana- Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

"However, our findings suggest that, despite the ongoing problem, most people do not know about them," Frosch said by email.

The scarcity of cancer medications has become increasingly common in recent years, often with generic drugs for which there are no alternatives that are similar in safety and efficacy, the researchers report in the journal Cancer.

As a result, the shortage of medications has caused delays in treatment, changes in medication regimens, and forgotten or suboptimal doses.

The survey, conducted online in 2016, was designed to see how often people were aware of the shortage, if they would like to be informed about these situations during their own cancer treatment and if they could seek care in another place when faced with a shortage to avoid treatment with a drug that is less effective or has more serious side effects.

Participants were more likely to be aware of medication shortages when they were white, elderly, employed, insured and had more income and education, the study found.

When people reported being aware of the shortage of medication, they most often obtained this information from the news or the Internet, the study found.

Overall, 87 percent of the participants said that they would like to be informed about any substitution of therapy caused by the shortage of medication when the alternative medications had large differences in effectiveness or side effects. Most people also wanted to know about minor differences.

When alternative treatments were much less effective, 72 percent of participants said they would transfer care to another doctor or health system to gain access to the medication that was missing. Less than half of the participants would transfer to avoid the effectiveness of minor differences.

With safety concerns, 61 percent of participants said they would transfer attention to avoid large differences in side effects and 40 percent said they would even avoid minor differences in side effects.

People who were black, uninsured or unemployed were less likely to report that they would transfer attention to avoid important differences in safety or efficacy.

The study was not a controlled experiment designed to test whether awareness of medication shortages could affect patients' treatment decisions in real life, and was not designed to assess the direct impact of shortages on outcomes. of health for cancer patients.

But many people may not realize how a shortage of drugs affects them until they are on cancer treatment and can not get the medicine they need, said Stacie Dusetzina, a researcher at the University's School of Medicine. Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, I'm not involved in the study.

"Drug shortages are like car recall notices, you may not know them unless they affect you directly," Dusetzina said by email. "I'm not surprised that people in general are not aware of this problem, but the lack of awareness obviously does not suggest that people are not interested, particularly if it would impact their care."

SOURCE: bit.ly/2qjptri Cancer, online, April 9, 2018.

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