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Shortage of childhood cancer drug causing concern

A global shortage of a life-saving childhood cancer drug is raising concerns, including in The Bahamas, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.  Across the world, oncologists and parents have expressed worry over the shortage of the drug, vincristine. Doctors have warned there is no substitute, and the shortage may soon force them to consider rationing doses, which could impact patients’ long-term results.

“The particular drug of concern is a drug called vincristine, which is important in the treatment of childhood leukemia,” said Sands outside Cabinet.

“The Bahamas is a part of the international pharmaceutical market, and there are shortages all over the world and that includes The Bahamas. And so, just as they’re struggling to find vincristine in the United States and elsewhere, we are struggling to find it here.

“And so yes, it has an impact on the treatment of leukemia. We will have to do the best that we can in order to find it, but hospitals all over the world are struggling because a number of manufacturers that used to make vincristine no longer make it, and so it is now in very short supply.”

Sands said while the shortage is not impacting many people in The Bahamas, “one patient is too many”.

“So, this is a problem, but it is the same problem that you would have if you were in Miami, New York, Houston, London, because a number of the major manufacturers no longer make the drug, and so it is difficult to get anywhere,” he said.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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