Parents and physicians scramble for solution after shortage of of childhood cancer chemotherapy drug
ST. PETERSBURG- To anyone outside of the pediatric cancer world, Vincristine sounds like any other medication, but to the parents and physicians of childhood cancer patients, it’s a lifesaver.
Veronica Crowfoot’s daughter Hazel was diagnosed with leukemia at just for years old, Hazel is now 6 years old, still fighting cancer and winning, but now the Crowfoot’s are fighting yet another battle.
“There is a massive shortage. It is one of the only chemotherapies Hazel still needs," said Crowfoot.
According to the FDA both Pfizer and Teva supplied Vincristine, until Teva made a business decision to discontinue the drug, leaving Pfizer as the sole supplier. Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Dr. Peter Shaw says they administer multiple doses of Vincristine every single day.
"Our pharmacists immediately figured how much supply we have, looked at every patient we have and figured out how long of a supply we have," said Dr. Shaw.
He says they’re expecting another shipment before they run out, but other physicians are faced with tougher questions like will they have to ration doses or skip doses altogether.
“It’s almost like being on a lifeboat; you’re going to figure out who you’re going to give the chemo to," said Dr. Shaw.
A reality Crowfoot now fears.
“I am one mom, with one voice, and I am doing the only thing that I know that I think can reach people who have power," said Crowfoot. "The government needs to help fund this.”
With no other substitution for Vincristine, Crowfoot is using her voice to demand funding. She has become an advocate for childhood cancer patients, sharing her family's own personal journey with cancer.
“I don’t know how else to be heard, I don’t know what else to do," said Crowfoot. "I am just trying to fight for my kid and for all of the other kids that need Vincristine.”
You can follow along with the Crowfoots journey here.
To sign a petition for a solution to the Vincristine shortage , click here.