STAT

Opinion: Drug shortages jeopardize the lives of children with cancer

This doesn't make sense: We often have shortages of older drugs that can cure cancer for dollars a dose while newer ones costing hundreds of thousands of dollars that prolong…

Alice, a preteen with newly diagnosed leukemia, and her parents were understandably distraught when she was diagnosed with cancer. As I sat down to discuss treatment options with Alice’s parents, I was glad I had something positive to share with them: A recent clinical trial showed that adding the drug nelarabine to standard chemotherapy led to a significant improvement in survival for children with Alice’s form of leukemia.

Unfortunately, a national shortage of nelarabine meant that for Alice — I’ve used a pseudonym — the chances for a cure were suddenly less clear.

Approximately 85 percent of children with cancer in the United States are cured of their disease. This success rate isn’t due to new or cutting-edge medicines, but to decades-old and off-patent drugs for which

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