To get a better understanding of what factors are contributing to the ongoing drug shortages, Targeted Oncology referenced 2022 data published by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). As investigated by the University of Utah Drug Information Service, the research broke down causes of the shortages as reported by drug manufacturers themselves. More than half would not disclose a reason or stated that the cause was unknown. Nineteen percent of respondents pointed to supply and demand issues, while 18% reported manufacturing issues as the cause. Business decisions accounted for 5% of answers, and raw material use and regulatory issues each earned 1% of responses.
Such findings appear to be in line with theories surrounding the current cancer drug shortage, as some experts point to a lack of manufacturer funding and inadequate manufacturing practices both within the U.S. and overseas as contributing factors (per NBC News). As a result, some cancer patients have had to undergo surgery without supplemental treatment of chemotherapy drugs, which often boosts success rates of surgical outcomes. Others have had to endure months-long waiting lists for these necessary medications (via Targeted Oncology).
To help mitigate the effects of critical drug shortages, the FDA is in the process of drafting new protocols, in which drug manufacturers would need to alert officials at least six months prior to an impending shortage or drug discontinuation.