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Drug shortages: Have you ever been forced to wait on your meds?

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Cancer patients may not get chemotherapy medicines on time or as planned. (agentry/iStock)

Cancer drug shortages are forcing Canadian hospitals to scrounge for medication to avoid delaying treatment, CBC News has learned.

For weeks, hospitals and pharmacists across Canada and in the U.S. have struggled to cope with spot shortages for about five chemotherapy drugs. Many of the medications are decades-old, highly toxic cancer drugs that kill dividing cancer cells and are mainstays of cancer treatment.

"We have had to look at trying to reschedule some patients' treatments, and some people have been delayed by short periods of time," said Dr. Peter Ellis, a medical oncologist at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton.

Ellis said most patients "were OK because they knew it was short term."

But he said he knows of one patient who became very upset when he turned up for treatment - only to find that wouldn't be getting it.

Ellis said his centre had no carboplatin -- a drug used to treat ovarian, lung and other cancers -- for days until pharmacists arranged to borrow some from another hospital.

Likewise, at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital, five chemotherapy drugs are on back order. The drugs are being rationed by the supplier to hospitals across the region.

Read more.

Have you ever been forced to delay treatment because of a drug shortage? If so, tell us your story. How was your situation resolved, if at all? Please let us know in the comments field below.



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