The Drug Shortage Crisis in the United States: Impact on Cancer Pharmaceutical Safety

  • Narissa J. NonzeeEmail author
  • Thanh Ha Luu
Part of the Cancer Treatment and Research book series (CTAR, volume 171)


Drug shortages pose a significant public health concern in the United States, and cancer drugs are among those most affected. Shortages present serious safety risks for patients and substantial burden on providers and the healthcare system. Multifaceted drivers of this complex problem include manufacturing disruptions, raw material shortages, regulatory issues, market dynamics, and limited financial incentives that reward quality and production of off-patent drugs. Oncology drugs in short supply have resulted in substitution of less effective or more toxic alternatives, medication errors, and treatment delays, and are especially concerning for medications with no adequate substitute. Consequently, patient outcomes such as disease progression and survival have been adversely affected. Furthermore, emerging gray markets have contributed to cost-prohibitive markups and introduction of counterfeit products that compromise patient safety. The Food and Drug Administration plays a key role in preventing and managing pharmaceutical shortages, largely through regulations requiring early notification of manufacturing interruptions. Other proposed strategies similarly target upstream causes and center on reducing regulatory hurdles for manufacturers and increasing incentives for market entry and quality improvement. Despite progress in preventing supply disruptions, continued exploration of underlying systemic drivers remains critical to informing long-term solutions and alleviating the clinical and economic impact of drug shortages.


Drug shortage Cancer Drug substitution Pharmaceutical safety 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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