Communication is ‘Paramount’ in Managing Chemotherapy Shortage


Recommendations penned by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and Society for Gynecologic Oncology may be critical in managing the ongoing chemotherapy shortage, according to Michael Ganio, PharmD, MS, BCPS, FASHP.

In an interview with CancerNetwork®, Michael Ganio, PharmD, MS, BCPS, FASHP, emphasized the critical role communication plays in managing the ongoing shortage of chemotherapy agents in the United States, including every member of clinical teams and even bringing patients into the conversation.1

Ganio, senior director of Pharmacy Practice and Quality at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, gave advice to practitioners on engaging with nurses, pharmacists, and others within their organizations to ensure that chemotherapy agents are being properly administered to patients. He also encourages reading recommendations from key organizations and institutions such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Society for Gynecologic Oncology.


Keep an eye on professional organization websites. For example, ASCO1 has put out some recommendations, as has the SGO,2 on managing the shortages and helping to find ways for clinicians to prioritize which treatments should go to which patients. Engage all the disciplines in your organization, including your ethics committee if you have one, your pharmacists, nurses, and anyone else who's administering medications. They might be administering something they're a little less familiar with.

Make sure every member of the health care team is engaged. Include your informatics team, too. Changing the way regimens might be built in whatever electronic health record is being used is important, too, to prevent errors. We're talking high-risk medications as far as dosing. Most chemotherapy [agents are] considered high risk, so making sure the dose is correct, the patient gets the right medication, and the medication goes to the right patient [is important]. There are a couple of different layers where there can be errors, and [there are] dire consequences with chemotherapy, so communication is paramount.

Involve the patient in that conversation, too. It seems obvious, but I think we sometimes take for granted that managing a shortage without even telling a patient; they may get a different antibiotic without even knowing and it [may be] second line. Patients in this instance have the absolute right to know, and they should be aware that these shortages exist. And every member of the team, including the patient, should know that there are some discussions in Congress right now to try to address the problem.

Reach out to your representatives, and make sure that they know that this is having a real-world impact so that we can bring them into these shortages.


  1. Clinical guidance. American Society of Clinical Oncology. Accessed July 26, 2023.
  2. SGO statement: carboplatin and cisplatin shortages. News release. Society of Gynecologic Oncology. April 21, 2023. Accessed July 26, 2023.
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