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Doctors, cancer patients in Hampton Roads dealing with nationwide shortage of chemotherapy drugs

KIFI

By Zak Dahlheimer

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    HAMPTON, Virginia (WTVR) — It was just two months before graduating college last year when, at 22, Matt Guillotty got news that changed his life.

He’d been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

“It definitely taught me how to manage my stress,” Guillotty told News 3.

What followed was months of treatment, including four months of chemotherapy with the drug, Cisplatin.

“I remember, when I was getting chemo, it was the most volume of chemo I got was that drug,” he said.

Since February, Guillotty has been cancer free.

But now, for many still undergoing treatment, the drug that helped him is in short supply.

“It’s a scary thought that I couldn’t have access to it,” Guillotty said.

chemotherapy drugs

Virginia Oncology Associates Chemotherapy Treatment Room in Hampton By: Zak DahlheimerPosted at 10:51 PM, Jul 05, 2023 and last updated 11:26 PM, Jul 05, 2023 HAMPTON, Va. — It was just two months before graduating college last year when, at 22, Matt Guillotty got news that changed his life.

He’d been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

“It definitely taught me how to manage my stress,” Guillotty told News 3.

What followed was months of treatment, including four months of chemotherapy with the drug, Cisplatin.

“I remember, when I was getting chemo, it was the most volume of chemo I got was that drug,” he said.

Since February, Guillotty has been cancer free.

But now, for many still undergoing treatment, the drug that helped him is in short supply.

“It’s a scary thought that I couldn’t have access to it,” Guillotty said.

Fellow testicular cancer survivor Steven Crocker also got Cisplatin for treatment a few years back.

“Having to face this cancer, and not have that critical piece, would be very frightening,” Crocker said.

Many searching for that critical tool are coming to Virginia Oncology Associates (VOA).

“It’s totally filled, and multiple people come in,” VOA Medical Director Dr. Scott Kruger said of their treatment room in Hampton.

Doctors like Kruger have been experiencing a nationwide shortage of Cisplatin and many other chemotherapy drugs.

“This is really hard for everyone,” Dr. Kruger said.

Lately, he and other doctors have had to make changes for treatment methods and schedules for many patients.

“It’s short because factories were closed, it’s short because people are making less because lack of product,” Dr. Kruger said when explaining the reasoning behind the nationwide chemotherapy drug shortage.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Cisplatin is a drug best known for curing testicular cancer.

However, it’s also used to treat other cancers including lung, bladder, cervical, and ovarian cancers.

In fact, NCI officials say Cisplatin and other similar platinum-based drugs are prescribed for an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all cancer patients.

“It can cure many diseases, and it’s one of our bread-and-butter drugs,” Dr. Kruger said.

As for solutions, Kruger said they’re getting Cisplatin in from China to help with supply and are also using substitutes where possible to make sure everyone gets some form of treatment.

However, he added that doctors don’t have an alternative source for other chemotherapy drugs, like Carboplatin.

“It may not be the ideal treatment, but everyone is doing what is the next appropriate treatment based on what drugs that they have,” Dr. Kruger said. “All of the physicians, the pharmacists, the hospitals, we’re all working together to try and help each other so that patients can get the drug they need.”

Dr. Kruger also told News 3 these drugs are being shared among providers so they can get the drugs to the patients that really need them.

He said it’s always best to check with your doctor to make sure you get what’s available, so you have the best available plan in place.

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