Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-06) today held a roundtable with Michigan Medicine to discuss the impacts of and potential solutions to the cancer drug shortage affecting patients and health systems across the country. The discussion included participants from Michigan Medicine’s Rogel Cancer Center, Department of Pharmacy Services, and Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences.
“We have a serious drug shortage in this country that’s leaving thousands of patients in Michigan and across the nation in distress,” Dingell said. “I’ve heard from many of them who can’t access drugs like lidocaine and steroids, let alone life-saving antibiotics and cancer drugs. No one should have to panic and fight to find the medications their doctors know are necessary for their treatment. This conversation demonstrated again the importance of Congress acting to bring home our pharmaceutical supply chains, incentivizing the production of generics, finding ways to ensure we are understanding why shortages are happening, getting earlier alerts, helping with broader distribution, and many other issues. I will continue to work closely with Michigan Medicine and other experts to address and find solutions to this crisis, and I’m thankful for the important work they’re doing every day to serve our community and beyond.”
“It is an unimaginable feeling to tell a patient with cancer that there is a lifesaving medicine for them that costs less than a tank of gasoline, but that it is not available for reasons out of all our control,” said Andrew Shuman, M.D., FACS, HEC-C, chief of the clinical ethics service in Michigan Medicine’s Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences. “Michigan Medicine invests massive effort into ensuring our supply of scarce medications is sufficient for our patients, but many facilities are not so well resourced. We thank Representative Dingell for her commitment to addressing this challenge and welcome needed legislative changes.”
“We appreciate Representative Dingell's long track record of support for patients with cancer and cancer research,” said Garth Strohbehn, M.D., MPhil, assistant professor in Michigan Medicine’s Rogel Cancer Center and Department of Medicine. “Legislative efforts are essential to preventing future drug shortages and to helping fund research that will mitigate the harms caused by those shortages that can't be avoided.”
“The University of Michigan Health Pharmacy Department invests significant resources into forecasting, tracking, and procurement strategies to combat ongoing drug shortages,” said Austin Pytlowany, PharmD, BCPS, clinical pharmacist specialist in Michigan Medicine’s Department of Pharmacy Services who specializes in drug shortage management. “This treacherous landscape becomes even more difficult to navigate due to the lack of manufacturer transparency, differing thresholds for national drug shortage reporting and drug access disparities between hospitals based on distribution agreements. It is vitally important to remedy these issues and improve medication access, so all patient populations have equal access to life-saving therapy.”
In May, Dingell led the Michigan Congressional delegation in a bipartisan letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to take action to mitigate the effects of the nationwide shortage of chemotherapy medications.
Click here for photos from the roundtable.