East Tennessee faces shortage of children's cancer drug

East Tennessee faces shortage of children's cancer drug

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By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Doctors and patients across the country are concerned about news that a children's cancer drug is in such short supply and could run out at hospitals nationwide.

Leukemia is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in children. The Food and Drug Administration says the situation involving Methotraxate is "dire."

"It is kind of scary. It's a medicine we use a lot," said Dr. Ray Pais, director of pediatric hematology at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

Dr. Pais says the Methotraxate in short supply is specifically the kind that's injected into the spinal fluid as chemotherapy.

"Cure rates went up and relapses went down quite a bit. It is a necessary part of the treatment," Dr. Pais said.

Children's Hospital says if the drug shortage is not taken care of quickly, it could become a significant problem. Currently, the hospital has enough for three to four months.

"It sounds unscientific to say, but let us pray so the problem is solved before we run out. If we do run out before it is solved, we will find a substitute," Dr. Pais said.

The doctor is hoping public attention, rather than alarm, will keep the problem as a priority because one of the hardest things to explain to a parent is why their child can't get access to a medication that could possibly keep them alive.

"I wish we didn't have to heap more onto their worries because they have enough," Dr. Pais said.

All five pharmaceutical companies that make the drug are citing delays in manufacturing and high demand as reasons behind the shortage.

Again, doctors and patients hope the public's concern will pressure these companies for a quick solution.

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