Cancer drug shortage should end sooner than expected: Health Canada
TORONTO -- A national shortage of a common breast cancer drug is expected to end a month earlier than expected, Health Canada said Monday.
Two manufacturers with a version of the anti-estrogen drug Tamoxifen on the market are reporting that shortages should end in December instead of Jan. 31, 2020.
AstraZeneca Canada Inc. estimates that its shortage will end Dec. 6, while Apotex Inc. estimates its shortage end date will now be Dec. 31.
In a statement to CTV News, Health Canada said it has been working to “identify mitigation measures, including exploring access to international supply,” adding that the new estimates are a result of that work.
“When national shortages occur, Health Canada works with stakeholders across the drug supply chain to determine the details and status of the shortage, coordinate information-sharing, and identify mitigation strategies, which may include regulatory measures to accelerate resupply if possible,” the agency said.
The Health Canada statement did not provide an update on a third manufacturer of the drug, Teva Canada Ltd.
Tamoxifen is the most commonly used anti-estrogen drug given to cancer patients as part of hormonal therapy, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. It’s also used to prevent the return of cancer, so patients can often be prescribed the drug for as long as a decade.
“The health and safety of Canadians is our top priority, and we recognize the significant impact that this shortage has on patients,” the Health Canada statement said.
Patients are being encouraged to visit their doctors to find alternatives during the shortage as patient needs will vary, a top oncologist told CTV’s Your Morning last week.
“Every patient has an individual risk depending on the type of cancer that they’ve had,” said Dr. Leta Forbes, a medical oncologist and the provincial head of systemic treatment at Cancer Care Ontario.
“We recommend that they speak to their healthcare professional about what the risks are of a temporary pause in their treatment or what alternatives there could be that they could be switched to in the interim.”