Kitchener-Waterloo

Grand River Hospital says steps are in place to deal with cancer drug shortage

Grand River Hospital says it has steps in place to ensure its patients still get the care they need as hospitals continue to grapple with a national cancer treatment drug shortage.

GRH has a shortage in three cancer drugs typically used to treat various cancers like lymphoma and lung cancer

Grand River Hospital has seen a shortage of three intravenous cancer drugs over the past six months. Those drugs are used to treat a variety of cancers, including lymphoma and lung cancer.  (CBC)

As hospitals continue to deal with a national cancer treatment drug shortage, Grand River Hospital (GRH) said it has steps in place to ensure its patients still get the care they need.

GRH said it has a dedicated team of pharmacists, oncologist and regional partners looking into the issue on a weekly basis to ensure the hospital can continue to provide cancer treatment. 

The hospital has seen a shortage in three intravenous cancer drugs over the past six months. Those drugs are used to treat a variety of cancers, including lymphoma and lung cancer. 

"Drug shortages are not new unfortunately" said Jane Martin.

Martin who is vice president for pharmacy, renal cancer and diagnostic services at GRH, said the hospital has enough cancer treatment drugs to care for its current cancer patients.

"We've been able to get some additional drug supply and where we haven't been able to, we've been working with the physicians to identify Cancer Care Ontario approved alternative guideline treatments and alternate therapies."

Those alternatives could be in the form of oral medication, Martin said.

If GRH were to not have enough cancer treatment drugs available, it would work with the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to find any surplus of drugs the hospital could access.

"There's an ethical framework for sharing that's been developed due to the drug shortages," she said.

Staff have been working with Mohawk Medbuy, one of the hospital's purchasing organization, to find alternative companies that can provide cancer drugs as well.

GRH will continue to deal with the shortage on a weekly basis and monitor its supply based on patient roster, Martin said.