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Nationwide cancer deficiency sparks fear among parents, doctors



LEHI – A nationwide shortage of a cancer-fighting drug has a Utah mother worried about her 6-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago.

The shortage came after Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of two companies manufacturing the drug Vincristine, stopped production.

Vincristine enters the bloodstream, targets cancer cells and kills them, doctors said.

"We don't know how to treat our children because there is no substitute," Veronica Crowfoot said. “It's not personal, but it feels personal. It's my baby. "

Crowfoot said they thought they might have lost 6-year-old Hazel after her diagnosis two years ago.

" There was a time when we were told we might only have 24 hours, "she said." That's the most important chemotherapy she gets right now. "

Hazel said she likes to imagine the cancer cells she fights every month when she gets a vital dose of Vincristine.

" These guys are very rude. They like to hit the line, ”said the 6-year-old. "Like bam, it's done. They're like, 'I'm out here.'"

Dr. Richard Lemons at the University of Utah Health and Primary Children's Hospital said he and the Children's Oncology Group, an organization supported by the National Cancer Institute, is very concerned.

"This is very frustrating," he said. "Any drug shortage, especially for parents of a child treated with cancer, can cause tremendous anxiety."

Lemons said they are proactive and monitoring the supply carefully.

"We believe we should be able to meet our patients' needs until the new shipments arrive," he said. But he also said the system needs to change, and the group advocates for it.

Hazel and her mother Veronica Crowfoot. Photo: KSL TV

"They require national stocks of critical drugs," Lemons said. "Not only for childhood cancer but also for other diseases."

Meanwhile, Hazel, who is in remission, hopes to stay healthy.

Veronica Crowfoot said she didn't want other mothers to feel this way

"This can't happen again," she said. "What should we do to prevent our children's lives from being endangered?"

Lemons said this is not the first time they are experiencing a lack of critical medication. If you are concerned, he recommended that you contact the Food and Drug Administration at [email protected] and selected officials to make changes.

Photos

Heather Simonsen

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