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Cancer Patients Can’t Get The Cheap Drugs They Need

By: Sophie Ma

Cisplatin and carboplatin are two cheap drugs that doctors use to treat as many as 500,000 new cancer cases each year. While these two drugs both cost less than 10 dollars per dose, many patients can’t get them.

Along with 12 other medical drugs, cisplatin and carboplatin are the primary drugs in shortage. They are mostly made overseas, and though these drugs are necessary they are very cheap for wholesalers to purchase and thus don’t bring in much profit. Instead drug manufacturers tend to make more of the costlier drugs for profit, rather than making these crucial drugs.

This problem has become so serious that thousands of people can’t even get their hands on a drug like cisplatin that costs only 6 dollars. In a recent survey from the past month, 70 percent of people can't get cisplatin and 93 percent of people are struggling to find carboplatin.

And this problem isn’t new, which is the most infuriating bit for most people. When Biden’s son died of cancer he placed his focus on his Cancer Moonshot. The only issue is that this project focuses on finding new cures and drugs that cost thousands of dollars — it doesn’t provide cheap medicine for the people experiencing shortages.

“It’s just a travesty that this is the level of healthcare in the United States of America right now,” Dr. Stephen Divers said, an oncologist in Hot Springs, AR. Many doctors are now starting to give the drug doses only to the patients in early stages. The drug can only slow down the cancer, but for patients earlier along in the treatment process, the drug can cure the disease. Other doctors are rationing the drugs in portions.

Isabella Mcdonald was diagnosed with a potentially fatal bone cancer, with a sole treatment of the methotrexate drug. When she started her second treatment cycle, her father says she was suggested to get less than the full dose due to the shortage.

Her father, Brent, said, “As you can imagine, when they gave us such low odds of her beating this cancer, it feels like we want to give it everything we can and not something short of the standard.”

Doctors are only giving 80 percent of a full dose to patients now. Not only is it hard to explain to patients, but it also isn’t as effective.

Dr. Mark Einstein said, “It’s hard to have these conversations with patients — ‘I have your dose for this cycle, but not sure about the next cycle,’”

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