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Childhood Leukemia Drug In Short Supply

Last updated on Wednesday, February 15, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana hospitals are stocking up on a critical childhood leukemia drug that’s in short supply across the country.

Production of methotrexate declined in December when federal inspectors temporarily shut down a drug maker over defective batches.

"The reason for the shortages is multifaceted and complex, including temporary suspensions of production due to quality or manufacturing issues; shortages of raw materials required to manufacture or package medications; and fewer manufacturers in the marketplace, making the previous reasons more serious in nature," Bill Malloy, clinical director of pharmacy at Community Health Network, said in a statement.

The shortage hasn't directly affected Indiana patients yet, but hospitals and pharmacies are shoring up their supplies.

"We're in active communication almost daily to understand the supply, where those supplies are and if we need to procure additional (supplies)," said Tony Antonopoulos with St. Vincent Health.

"The close monitoring of drug shortages and enhanced inventory control processes have resulted in our ability to minimize interruptions of care to our patients," Malloy said.

Oncology groups are pleading with manufacturers to step up methotrexate production and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is urging families to contact their lawmakers about the shrinking supply.

With methotrexate, doctors say they can cure 90 percent of young patients.

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