Shortage of critical chemotherapy drug worries father of leukemia survivor


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – According to the FDA, there is currently a nationwide shortage of a critical chemotherapy drug, vincristine, used to treat children with cancer.

Because of a manufacturing delay, the shortage of vincristine will likely continue through December.

Pfizer became the only supplier of vincristine in July when Teva Pharmaceuticals decided to discontinue the cancer-fighting drug, further exacerbating the shortage.

“This isn’t Tylenol and you could replace it with Advil, you’re talking about a major drug that is directly geared toward treating pediatric cancer and has been very successful,” said Todd Brysiak, the father of a cancer survivor.

Brysiak’s 11-year-old daughter Ashlyn has been cancer-free for more than a year now.

“[It] was very much part of the process, and she had probably dozens of doses of that over the course of her 27 months of treatment,” Brysiak said.

According to Penn State Hershey, pediatric oncologists are very concerned about the shortage, saying it could potentially impact their ability to cure patients.

Currently, the Children’s Hospital has an adequate supply but is making plans in case of a shortfall, an added stress Brysiak says no family should ever have to go through.

“From one day being concerned she might have a hip flexor strain to the next day realizing she was very likely fighting for her life. No parent is ever prepared to hear at any point in time, that your child has cancer,” Brysiak said.

These are all reasons why state Sen. Scott Martin is working on Senate Bill 74.

“It’ll allow over a 10-year period $100 million, so $10 million a year in tax credits that would go to our four cancer research facilities here in Pennsylvania,” Martin (R-Lancaster) said.

There is set to be a vote on Senate Bill 74 in the Finance Committee on Wednesday.

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