Chemotherapy drug shortages in pediatric oncology: A consensus statement

Matthew DeCamp, Steven Joffe, Conrad V. Fernandez, Ruth R. Faden, Yoram Unguru

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Shortages of essential drugs, including critical chemotherapy drugs, have become commonplace. Drug shortages cost signifi cant time and financial resources, lead to adverse patient outcomes, delay clinical trials, and pose significant ethical challenges. Pediatric oncology is particularly susceptible to drug shortages, presenting an opportunity to examine these ethical issues and provide recommendations for preventing and alleviating shortages. We convened the Working Group on Chemotherapy Drug Shortages in Pediatric Oncology (WG) and developed consensus on the core ethical values and practical actions necessary for a coordinated response to the problem of shortages by institutions, agencies, and other stakeholders. The interdisciplinary and multiinstitutional WG included practicing pediatric hematologist-oncologists, nurses, hospital pharmacists, bioethicists, experts in emergency management and public policy, legal scholars, patient/family advocates, and leaders of relevant professional societies and organizations. The WG endorsed 2 core ethical values: maximizing the potential benefits of effective drugs and ensuring equitable access. From these, we developed 6 recommendations: (1) supporting national polices to prevent shortages, (2) optimizing use of drug supplies, (3) giving equal priority to evidence-based uses of drugs whether they occur within or outside clinical trials, (4) developing an improved clearinghouse for sharing drug shortage information, (5) exploring the sharing of drug supplies among institutions, and (6) developing proactive stakeholder engagement strategies to facilitate prevention and management of shortages. Each recommendation includes an ethical rationale, action items, and barriers that must be overcome. Implemented together, they provide a blueprint for effective and ethical management of drug shortages in pediatric oncology and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e716-e724
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Antineoplastic agents/supply and distribution
  • Bioethics
  • Coordination
  • Ethics
  • Health care rationing
  • Medical
  • Pediatric oncology
  • Resource allocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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