BEACHWOOD --Jill Cancelliere's been fighting ovarian cancer since 2003.
This year she started taking the chemotherapy drug Doxil.It's a well-tolerated tool for patients. Jill didn't lose her hair or have the negative side effects commonly caused by most chemo drugs.
Then, over the summer, her nurse called to tell her that there's a shortage of Doxil and she'd have to stop treatment.The Johnson and Johnson drug is made by Ben Venue Laboratory in Bedford Heights.
Last November, Ben Venue, located in Bedford,voluntarily shut down amid concerns and violations discovered by the FDA. Ben Venue is the only place in the world that makes Doxil.
Doxil is used to treat patients with ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma or Kaposi's sarcoma after first-line treatments have failed.
Currently, thousands of people are now on a waiting list for the drug.
Dr. Rob DeBernardo, of University Hospitals, says there's no easy substitute for Doxil.He calls it the most important drug he uses for ovarian cancer patients.
Doxil is just one of 20-plus cancer drugs that are in shortage.
About 200 medications are listed on the FDA's drug shortage page, including anesthetics, sterile injectable drugs for conditions such as infection and heart conditions, and intravenous nutrition therapy.
There are many causes for shortages, includingmanufacturing problems and economic issues.
The FDA has a drug shortage program that works with drug makers to manage supply problems. But the agency cannot force a company to make a drug.
Companies are required to give the FDA six months' notice when they intend to stop making a drug that's medically necessary and is not made by anyone else.
That was done in the case of Doxil.