Patients scramble as cancer drug shortage continues
LONDON, Ont. -- “I’ve been calling pharmacies all over the province.“
Kara Jarvis hasn’t put the phone down, in search of 10 milligram tamoxifen pills for her best friend Dawn Kuehl, who takes tamoxifen as a form of chemotherapy to help keep her cancer from spreading.
“She was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and her cancer has spread to her shoulder, her hip, her leg and the back of her head.”
Kuehl is supposed to take 30 milligrams of tamoxifen each day. Pills come in 20 mg and 10 mg doses and without any 10 mg available in the city. It’s been a stressful couple of weeks.
“It’s been a whirlwind not knowing if things are going to come through. We have gone through the possibility of cutting them in half and that didn’t work out.”
After meeting with her oncologist Kuehl has been told for now the only option is to alternate from 40 mg one day to 20 mg the next.
“That in particular I’m not looking forward to. It does scare me because I’m worried about the side effects.”
There are three drug manufacturers that produce tamoxifen. As of this week Health Canada has reported one company will have some back on the market by Dec. 6, another by Dec. 31 and the third company Jan. 31, 2020.
But how quickly pharmacies will get their orders is yet to be determined.
“There might be a rollout. So if the pharmacies are low on stock they will order more stock, but it will depend on the demand coming into the pharmacy,” says Dr. Leta Forbes from Cancer Care Ontario.
In the meantime, after calling dozens of pharmacies across the province Jarvis found one in Northern Ontario that does have 10 mg pills.
It should’ve been a happy moment, but unfortunately they can’t be shipped to London, which Jarvis says is unbelievable.
“It will extend her life, we have a lot of laughs to have, we’ve got a lot of time to have with one another and this medication will help her.”