Dr. Michelle Melisko Discusses Access to Care for Breast Cancer Patients

Dr. Michelle E. Melisko, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, explains how drug shortages are affecting patients with breast cancer and the potential impact to cost and outcomes.

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Dr. Melisko discusses the paclitaxel (Brand name: Taxol) shortages that have impacted the ability to start patients with clinical trials. Physiscians are being asked to prescribe alternative drugs and only use Taxol when absolutely necessary. A recommended alternate to Taxol is another albumin-bound paclitaxel; however, it is costly. Doxil () has been a more serious shortage since the middle of August. Patients were able to switch to Adriamycin (which has more toxicity and side affects. However, Dr. Melisko does not feel it will necessarily impact the long-term prognosis because there are other drugs to be given. It is stressful for the patients and physicians to not be able to rely on using a specific drug.