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Drugmakers are abandoning cheap generics, and now U.S. cancer patients can’t get meds

By: Kaitlyn Zhou

In May, California, Virginia, and all the states in between are being forced into untested controlling plans for all kinds of cancers like breast, bladder, ovarian, lung, testicular, and many more. That means many solutions for cancer may be untested, which isn’t safe. This is at stake because peoples’ decisions result in deaths that could’ve been preventable.

These states would have to deal with more trouble with cancer patients and deaths. Seven months ago, three U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspectors went to the Intas Pharmaceuticals plant in Ahmedabad, India. The inspectors found up to hundreds of trash bags that were full of shredded documents, which looked like papers that provided more than 50% of the U.S. supply of cisplatin and carboplatin, cheap drugs that are used to treat about five-hundred thousand cancer cases every year.

Dr. Stephen Divers, an oncologist, also known as a doctor who has special training in diagnosing and treating cancer, from Hot Springs, Ark., said that it’s just a travesty that this is the level of healthcare in the United States of America right now.

Dr. Stephen Divers has had to delay or change treatment recently for many cancer patients because his clinic cannot find enough drugs to treat them (cisplatin and carboplatin). Survey results show a huge loss of carboplatin and cisplatin released just this month.

As the loss and shortage of carboplatin and cisplatin continue, companies are going bankrupt and closing. For example, Akorn, which made 75 common generics, had unfortunately gone bankrupt and closed in February. Not only that, other companies are in trouble too, said David Gaugh, interim chief executive of the Assn (Accessible Medicines).

Soumi Saha, senior vice president of government affairs for Premier, which arranges wholesale drug purchases for more than 4,400 hospitals and health systems, said that because of how the 2020 CARES Act gave the FDA the power to require companies to have plans allowing them to reply to shortages, no cisplatin maker had a response plan in place when Intas’ plant was closed.

Scientists and doctors will try to find more solutions. Their capacity is now half-idle. If federal agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services paid more for more safely and efficiently produced drugs, it would promote a more stable supply chain, Sardella said.

Dr. Mark Ratain is a cancer doctor and pharmacologist at the University of Chicago said, ““It would almost literally be a drop in the bucket.”

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