Latest: HSE contingency plan in place to minimise impact of chemotherapy drugs shortage

Latest: HSE contingency plan in place to minimise impact of chemotherapy drugs shortage

Update 11.10am: The HSE says only a small number of patients are affected by a shortage of chemotherapy drugs.

Baxter Healthcare, the only firm supplying the drugs to Ireland has run short - however the issue is expected to be resolved by early next week.

The health authority said in a statement that a contingency plan is in place to minimise the impact on patient care and anyone urgently in need of chemo will be accommodated in other facilities if needed.

    The full statement reads:

    The HSE has confirmed that contingency planning is underway to minimise the impact on patient care caused by a temporary reduction in the supply of outsourced chemotherapy products being experienced this week. We would stress, however, that the vast majority of patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment will continue to receive treatment as per their clinically planned schedule.

    The HSE is liaising with the supplier concerned and understands that they expect the capacity issue to be resolved by early next week. Medical teams in each of the hospitals affected are determining the clinical needs of those patients involved and decisions regarding re-scheduling are being prioritised. Hospitals are in direct contact with those patients affected to re-schedule appointments as appropriate. For a very small number of patients, whose clinical needs require immediate access to the drugs as planned, treatment options are being offered in alternative hospitals to ensure that they are seen in a timely manner.

    The HSE regrets any concern this situation will cause to patients. We would stress however, that all hospitals affected are working to minimise the overall impact. We would further stress that hospitals will make direct contact with those patients affected and patients are advised to attend for treatment as arranged unless they are informed otherwise.

Earlier:: There is concern for cancer patients this morning after a warning that hospitals are running low on chemotherapy drugs.

Baxter Healthcare, the only company supplying the compound drugs, has been unable to provide a full supply for the last two weeks.

The Irish Independent claims several specialists are readjusting treatments because of the lack of supplies.

A spokeswoman for Baxter confirmed to the Independent that it is currently experiencing "a temporary supply constraint" of compounded chemotherapy products which it provides to a number of public and private hospitals in Ireland.

"We are doing all we can to restore production capacity as quickly as possible and minimise the impact to patients."

Consultant Oncologist at St Vincent's Hospital, John Crown, says they should be penalised for the error.

"Baxter are a really big international organisation and this cannot happen again.

"There has to be something built into their contract, which is a penalty close so if they fail to provide they are penalised.

"Baxter I believe have within their international empire the ability - perhaps very expensively - to redeploy drugs and other resources from another jurisdiction," he said.

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