Shortage of cancer drugs having devastating effects on patients, veterinarians

Cisplatin and carboplatin, popular chemotherapy medications, are difficult to obtain and increasingly expensive

By Coco Lederhouse
Published: 20 October 2023

Dr. Terry Hamilton was a veterinary oncologist at Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Atlanta for 16 years until retiring in December 2022. The stress of cancer drug shortages was one of the reasons he retired early.

The dilemma of reserving drugs for patients with a worse prognosis, and constantly picking and choosing which patient to treat was "hugely stressful" for Dr. Hamilton.

"It’s something that kind of eats away at you a little bit," he said. "That you know you’re not doing what you could because of conditions outside of your control. It’s burning veterinarians out. I can only imagine the same thing is happening in human medicine."

As of mid-September, there were 27 oncology medicines on the official. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shortage list. Widely used chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and carboplatin have been in short supply for months, forcing human doctors and veterinarians to make challenging treatment decisions. Supply chain disruptions affecting the few pharmaceutical companies producing these drugs have meant a recent dramatic reduction in the available supply.

To see the full version of this story, visit the AVMA News website.