Leading Pediatric Oncologist Group Releases Guidance for Rationing Childhood Cancer Drugs in Anticipation of Future Drug Shortages

Preparation is in hopes of ethically handling next drug shortage

Jan 29, 2016, 16:45 ET from St. Baldricks Foundation from ,Children’s Oncology Group

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Children's Oncology Group (COG) has taken steps to help pediatric oncologists across the United States plan for the next shortage of life-saving chemotherapy drugs used for children with cancer. The COG is the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research and is supported in part by the St. Baldrick's Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants.

In a paper [that will be] published today by JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, members of the COG presented their plan, a framework to effectively and ethically handle the inevitable next drug shortage that will place children with cancer at risk.

"Our intention with this project was to try to help the childhood cancer community manage the crisis that will occur when, not if, the next drug shortage happens," said COG Chairman Dr. Peter Adamson. "This is a problem almost exclusively impacting children in the United States and not other developed countries. The problem should be preventable, but will require the government to take additional steps to address the fundamental causes of these shortages. Until further action is taken, we are doing everything in our power to help prepare for the next shortage when pediatric oncologists may be forced into rationing a life-saving medication for children with cancer."

The COG and St. Baldrick's hope that the announcement of this framework will also serve as a call for policy makers to address this situation for children with cancer. Although initial steps toward a solution have been made, a more comprehensive approach that addresses the underlying challenges and provides for a reliable safety net when shortages occur is needed.

"This framework is a critical step in addressing a larger problem that continues to affect children with cancer," said St. Baldrick's CEO Kathleen Ruddy. "No physician should have to face the indignity of having to tell a parent they cannot get access to a drug because of a shortage. And it is completely unacceptable for a family to be told their child cannot get a drug that may mean the difference between life and death."

The St. Baldrick's Foundation is the largest private supporter of the COG's work, awarding the group more than $60 million since 2005, to support clinical trials taking place at its more than 200 member institutions. This support enables more children to receive cutting-edge treatment closer to home.

About the Children's Oncology Group
The Children's Oncology Group (www.childrensoncologygroup.org) is the world's largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research. The Children's Oncology Group (COG) unites over 8,000 experts in childhood cancer at more than 200 leading children's hospitals, universities, and cancer centers across North America, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Europe in the fight against childhood cancer. Today, more than 90% of the 14,000 children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States are cared for at COG member institutions. COG's mission is to improve the cure rate and outcome for all children with cancer.

About St. Baldrick's Foundation
As the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants, the St. Baldrick's Foundation believes that kids are special and deserve to be treated that way. St. Baldrick's funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world and to innovative explorers who bring with them the promise of a future free from childhood cancers. Kids need treatments as unique as they are – and that starts with funding research just for them. Join us at StBaldricks.org to help support the best cancer treatments for kids.

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SOURCE St. Baldricks Foundation; Children’s Oncology Group