Drug Updates

The previous articles have outlined the clinical outcomes of clinical trials evaluating bendamustine in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodg­kin lymphoma (NHL). The third in the series of articles discusses the short-term toxicities of bendamustine from these clinical trials.

The drug shortage crisis is easing, but an actual solution to the problem is still elusive, according to participants in a press briefing that addressed the issue at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held in Chicago, Illinois.

Richard Schilsky, MD, chair of ASCO’s government relations committee and an oncologist at the University of Chicago, indicated, “Patient care has been threatened in many cases. But the good news is that the frequency of drug shortages is beginning to decline.”

At one New York medical center, half of the cancer patients required drugs that were considered in short supply in 2010 and 2011, and 10% were forced to receive an alternative, according to a study presented at the 2012 ASCO Annual Meeting (Abstract 6114).

While the investigators hope that this did not compromise efficacy, about one-third of the time the physicians felt the substitute was inferior, said Daniel J. Becker, MD, of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt and Bet h Israel M edic al Center, New York, who led the study presented at ASCO.

Oncology pharmacists should understand the characteristics of 7 emerging drugs and biologics. At the 2012 Pharmacy Program held during the 17th Annual Conference of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) in Hollywood, Florida, Van Anh Trinh, PharmD, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, and Robert Ignoffo, PharmD, of the University of California San Francisco and the Touro University College of Pharmacy in Vallejo, described the appropriate use of axitinib, crizotinib, ipilimumab, and vemurafenib, and previewed carfilzomib, regorafenib, and vosaroxin.

Drug shortages continue to plague the United States, compromising patient safety and placing additional strain on healthcare resources. The shortages encompass common drugs used to treat a range of conditions, from everyday infections to heart attacks.

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