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Carboplatin, cisplatin chemotherapy drug shortages delaying some cancer treatments in New York

Cancer centers across US struggling with chemotherapy drug shortage
Cancer centers across US struggling with chemotherapy drug shortage 01:54

NEW YORK -- A nationwide chemotherapy drug shortage is impacting cancer patients and doctors in New York

"We're really in an unprecedented situation in the cancer field," said Dr. Richard Carvajal, a medical oncologist who helps run the Northwell Health Cancer Institute. 

Carboplatin and cisplatin shortages are delaying treatment, forcing doctors and patients to make tough choices, according to Carvajal. 

"I would say these are drugs that are used in 10, 20 percent of our cancer patients," said Carvajal. "We're using sometime in the curative setting for our patients with ovarian cancer, lung cancer." 

As a result, doctors are administering lower and fewer doses in some cases. 

"We have to manage our inventory and that's making sure that we use every drop of drug in every vile," said Carvajal. 

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network released a study that found 93 percent of cancer centers in the U.S. are experiencing the shortage. 

"Sometimes it may be a delay in therapy until an agent becomes available," said Dr. Robert W. Carlson, CEO of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

The shortage dates back to January, when one of the largest plants in India ran into quality control problems with half of its supply. 

"We believe that the federal government needs to step up to the plate," said Carlson. 

For now, some doctors are being forced to decide which patients get the treatment and when. 

"To have to worry about, 'Is there enough drug for me to be treated?' That is not what our patients should be worrying about,"  said Carvajal.

The FDA is looking into having the cancer drug shipped from China as the U.S. seeks new suppliers. 

In the meantime, medical experts say cancer patients should talk with their doctors about what treatments work best for them. 

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