A national group of researchers, including some from Boston, were tracking the toxicity and long-term effects of a specific chemotherapy regimen in children and adolescents treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma when one of the drugs, marketed as Mustargen, became unavailable. The researchers swapped it for what they thought was a comparable drug, but when they looked at their data later they found that those who were treated with the substitute had a significantly higher chance of relapsing.
Drug shortages have surged in recent years. The researchers’ results, published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, provide a small window into the potential effects on patient care:
Many of the major cancer drug shortages have eased or been resolved in recent months, Link said. Lundbeck was producing Mustargen again in October and the drug was readily available by November, according to tracking by Fox’s group. (Lundbeck recently announced plans to sell its Mustargen product and other drugs to another manufacturer.)
The FDA has taken steps to mitigate the effects of shortages, including pushing manufacturers to notify the government when they expect a supply interruption. But, Link said, the changes don’t go far enough to prevent future shortages.
“We have no confidence that we have a durable solution,” he said. “The worry is, when’s the next one going to happen?”Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.