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Oncology News Central (ONC)Cancer Drug Shortage Update: ASCO and SGO Issue Disease-Specific Guidance

The societies have published six disease-specific documents outlining recommendations for treating urothelial, breast, gastrointestinal, gynecologic, head and neck, and small cell lung cancers.

Amid the ongoing shortage of key chemotherapy drugs, cisplatin and carboplatin, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in conjunction with the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), has released comprehensive guidance for cancer treatment to help healthcare practitioners navigate the crisis.

Key Points:

  • Previously, ASCO provided eight general recommendations to manage the shortages, such as reprioritizing nonessential chemotherapy drug use, extending interval doses, and minimizing waste.
  • The new guidance takes into account the types of cancer in which platinum agents are crucial, determining the best way to use the limited supply.
  • The guidance also provides potential treatment alternatives during the shortage, for example, oxaliplatin as a “reasonable substitute” for cisplatin and carboplatin in treating gastrointestinal cancer.

Additional Points:

  • Dr. Julie Gralow, Chief Medical Officer of ASCO, highlighted that the goal of the guidance is to help members communicate effectively with patients about evidence-based alternatives amidst the shortage.
  • 45-50 clinicians have participated in the drug shortage advisory group, supporting the development of these guidelines.
  • For gynecologic cancers, SGO has issued site-specific documents, catering to the unique challenges posed by the shortage.
  • Further guidance for non-small cell lung and testicular cancers, and germ cell tumors is being developed.


  • The drug shortage continues to pose a significant challenge to cancer treatment. However, these guidelines by ASCO and SGO aim to provide physicians with evidence-based alternatives and strategies to ensure effective patient care.

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“Not only are [patients] dealing with this tremendous burden of a cancer diagnosis, they’re now coupled with the additional burden of knowing that there may be supply-related issues with a medication that’s there, in a lot of cases, for curative intent for them.”

Matthew Fink, MD
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute
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