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Cancer Care Business Exchange (CBEx)How Will the Chemotherapy Shortage Affect Health Policy in the US?

The ongoing chemotherapy shortage in the US is posing significant challenges to cancer treatment, prompting a reevaluation of health policies and regulations. Alyssa Schatz, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), discusses the implications of this crisis and potential strategies for mitigating its impact.

Key Points:

  • The chemotherapy shortage is forcing policy makers to balance affordability, safety, and effectiveness of drugs.
  • Generics manufacturers operate on slim margins, leading to potential quality and supply issues.
  • There is a need for a market that supports the manufacturing of high-quality generics and better information systems to predict and respond to drug shortages.
  • Infrastructure must be in place to ensure timely care during shortages, including guidance around labor and prior authorization for alternative therapies.

Additional Points:

  • The FDA is importing drugs and conducting heightened quality checks during the crisis.
  • Payers can ease the crisis by providing clear guidance on handling alternative treatment plans, reducing unnecessary delays in care.
  • The shortage may impact ongoing clinical trials that use certain chemotherapy drugs, necessitating support to prevent interruptions.
  • Multiple stakeholders need to collaborate on multifaceted solutions to prevent future drug shortages, such as a national stockpile of critical cancer drugs, improved information systems, and economic support for the generic market.


  • A task force convened by the HHS, involving payers, healthcare professionals, manufacturers, patients, and caregivers, could help develop comprehensive solutions to prevent future drug shortages.

“Drug shortages are not inevitable. We can come together in partnership to ensure that drug shortages do not occur in the future, but I think it will require solutions that come from multiple stakeholders and are multifaceted solutions.”

Alyssa Schatz
Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy
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