Klobuchar asks FDA for solution to chemo drug shortage

by Lorna Benson 

St. Paul, Minn. — U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is asking the Food and Drug Administration to find an immediate solution to the shortage of some chemotherapy drugs.

Earlier this week, MPR News reported that doctors and pharmacists in Minnesota are struggling to find several commonly-used chemotherapy drugs. The problem is reportedly occuring nationwide.

Klobuchar says there are two things the FDA could do immediately to ensure adequate supplies of the drugs.

"One, they can allow importation of certain products into the U.S. if that's an issue, and I'm talking about safe places like Canada," she said. "Two, they can bring the drug manufacturers and the health care community together to try to work this out."

There are many reasons contributing to the chemotherapy drug shortages, including manufacturing problems, regulatory delays and down-sizing in the pharmaceutical industry.

In some cases, patients have had to travel great distances to get their chemotherapy drugs from alternate sources.

Klobuchar says the FDA should take the lead on solving the shortage.

"They can work closely with the health care community and manufacturers who might not otherwise be brought together. They can be a central place to bring people together to identify and address the shortages as they occur," she said.

Last month, national organizations representing pharmacists and oncologists invited representatives from the FDA and the drug industry to a meeting to discuss the chemotherapy shortage.