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Drug Shortage Rountable Participants
Hospital CEOs, pharmacy directors, researchers and other healthcare staff
from around Ohio attended a roundtable discussion convened by U.S. Sen.
Sherrod Brown (right) at the OSUCCC – James  to address the national
drug shortage crisis.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown will work with the OSUCCC – James to explore legislative action to address a drug-shortage crisis affecting hospitals and patient care across the nation.

Brown made that commitment at a Jan. 19 roundtable discussion that he convened at Ohio State to talk about causes and possible solutions to the crisis with hospital CEOs, pharmacy directors, researchers and other staff from around Ohio.

More than 250 generic drugs across all medical specialties are in short supply. The shortage list includes antibiotics, anesthetic agents, antihypertensive medications, and common electrolyte solutions and vitamins, in addition to anticancer drugs for leukemia and for testicular, breast, ovarian and colon cancers.

Michael Grever, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at Ohio State, highlighted how record drug shortages have forced hospitals and clinics to prescribe medicines that are less effective or may cause side effects.

“Drug shortages of life-saving medications have become a national crisis, one whose resolution has been a top priority for this University,” said Grever, who also co-leads the Experimental Therapeutics Program at the OSUCCC – James. “Outcomes can be fatal for patients with cancer if they can’t get the drug most effective in treating their specific type of disease at the time when they need it. Patients suffering from terminal disease don’t have an option to wait for these shortages to be rectified. It has become clear that we cannot resolve the issues creating these shortages without the necessary element of government intervention.” 

On hand to illustrate the problem from a personal standpoint was Sharon Brown of Hilliard, who is being treated for breast cancer at the OSUCCC – James. Brown had depended on the drug Taxol for her treatment but, because of a drug shortage, she had to switch to Taxotere, which caused severe side effects that delayed her chemotherapy by four weeks.

“If there’s a lifesaving drug that can be developed to treat cancer, we must ensure that it is also produced and delivered to patients whose lives could be saved,” Brown said. “Patients like Sharon should be focusing on fighting cancer and not have to worry about whether there’s enough medicine to help them get better.”

Brown is calling upon the U.S. Senate to pass a bill he co-sponsored called the Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act, which would trigger alert by drug manufacturers of incidents that may result in a drug shortage. In addition to promoting this Act, Brown pledged to work with the OSUCCC – James to find other legislative solutions that can address the crisis more broadly.

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James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute
460 W. 10th Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43210

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