Cancer patients shaken by shortage of life-saving drug
LONDON, Ont. -- A country-wide shortage of a cancer drug used by thousands of Canadians is leaving patients, including some locally, worried about their life-saving medication.
For Dawn Kuehl and her best friend and caregiver Kara Jarvis, their most recent trip to the pharmacy was shocking.
Kuehl has terminal cancer and a drug called tamoxifen - which she relies on - is currently part of a Canada-wide shortage.
According to Jarvis, Kuehl's "cancer pills are extremely important to stop the progression from growing any further."
Kuehl, who had breast cancer and a double mastectomy, was cancer free after her treatments - but then only a month later her doctor had bad news.
"Cancer has spread to her shoulder, her hip, her one leg and to the back of her head," says Jarvis.
Then she was given another blow earlier this week when the pharmacy was only able to give her a two-week supply of tamoxifen.
She was told after the two weeks there’s no guarantee there will be more of that drug to go around.
Cancer Care Ontario, which has been monitoring the situation, says doctors and pharmacies are working together.
"Right now what’s happening is the pharmacies are looking for supplies from other colleagues to try to get patients the drug that they need and if they are unable to obtain a supply then we are advising patients to call their oncologist," says Dr. Leta Forbes of Cancer Care Ontario.
She says the shortage is supposed to last until January, but in some cases there are alternatives.
In the meantime, Kuehl's supply of the drug that is currently keeping her alive, will run out in a little more than a week.
Jarvis says she’s trying her best to not fear the worst.