The medication used to treat childhood leukemia is experiencing a nationwide shortage, reports the New York Times. Hospitals across the country could run out of supplies within two weeks, leaving thousands of children at a greater risk of dying from the disease.
The drug, methotrexate, is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia by impeding the growth of cancer cells. The five pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drug have attributed the shortage to excess demand and various manufacturing delays, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
If the shortage continues, thousands of children with leukemia could be left without life-saving treatment. While some physicians have begun to split doses among patients, other doctors are considering delaying treatment for those who do not need it immediately in order to handle more severe cases.
This is a crisis that I hope the FDA's hard work can help to avert, Dr. Michael Link, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, told the New York Times. We have worked very hard to take what was an incurable disease and make it curable for 90 percent of the cases. But if we can't get this drug anymore, that sets us back decades.