The shortage of chemotherapy drugs in the United States is one of the most severe in three decades, according to experts. Currently, over 130 drugs, including 14 cancer treatments, are in short supply, leading to difficulties in providing adequate care to patients. The shortage primarily affects two vital therapies, carboplatin and cisplatin, which are used to treat various cancers. Factors such as plant shutdowns, quality concerns, and increased demand for substitute drugs have contributed to the scarcity. As a result, some providers have had to extend the time between chemotherapy sessions, while patients have had to travel long distances to receive treatment at different cancer centers. Toni Dezomits, already undergoing chemotherapy, faced a shortage of carboplatin, an essential part of her treatment. She had to choose between continuing without the medication or switching to a drug with stronger side effects. This dilemma is not unique to her, as up to 100,000 U.S. patients may have been affected. Cancer patients like Toni worry about the impact of not receiving the effective drug they need.

The affordable production of generic cancer drugs has worsened the shortage problem. Pharmaceutical companies prioritize profits and have less motivation to manufacture these crucial drugs for patients. Moreover, the rising number of cancer cases due to longer life expectancy has strained the supply chain even more. While temporarily importing drugs from other countries can provide some relief, a sustainable solution is needed. To tackle the recurring shortages, cooperation between the government and private sector, establishing strategic reserves of vital medicines, and offering incentives to high-quality pharmaceutical companies are proposed.