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Sandoz IV drug shortage: Be ready to help your cancer patients

April 17, 2012

Community pharmacists need to be aware that they may see some increases in volumes of prescriptions for oral medications for cancer patients. The cancer support medications have specific instructions tailored for particular chemotherapy protocols.

Sandoz Canada has advised Alberta Health Services of supply disruptions for a number of different types of injectable drugs over the next 12 to 18 months as they reengineer production processes to meet FDA requirements.

To help maintain injectable drug supplies for the most vulnerable populations, AHS is using therapeutic alternatives and implementing strategies to conserve injectable drug stock wherever possible and medically appropriate. This includes using oral drug alternatives wherever possible.

For cancer patients, this has resulted in a switch to oral medications for outpatients receiving chemotherapy (e.g., oral antiemetics such as ondansetron or granisetron; oral dexamethasone or diphenhydramine to prevent chemotherapy infusion reactions). Many cancer patients were already taking these oral medications for their post-chemotherapy at-home doses, which they would have been obtaining from community pharmacies. These patients are now being provided with prescriptions for their pre-chemotherapy doses as well.

Community pharmacists are encouraged to follow-up with the prescriber or an AHS Cancer Care pharmacy if they have any questions about these prescriptions.

Edmonton – Cross Cancer Institute: 780-432-8771
Calgary – Tom Baker Cancer Centre: 403-521-3764
Red Deer – Central Alberta Cancer Centre: 403-343-4802
Grande Prairie Cancer Centre: 780-538-7288
Lethbridge – Jack Ady Cancer Centre: 403-388-6800
Medicine Hat – Margery E. Yuill Cancer Centre: 403-529-8817