A nationwide shortage of a pediatric cancer drug pushes Western New York lawmakers to take action

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A nationwide pediatric cancer drug shortage is hitting close to home, and Congressman Brian Higgins is calling for federal action to address the problem before it gets worse.

Alex Tingley is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For treatments, the 5 year-old relies on the pediatric cancer drug, Erwinaze.

“He was diagnosed that day after Christmas,” Alex’s mom Katie said. “We didn’t have our first experience with a drug shortage until about May.”

The shortage of Erwinaze is due to ongoing manufacturing issues and capacity constraints from the company that makes the drug.

“It’s a terrifying thing to go through, even if there are the drugs available and when they’re not available it’s really scary,” Katie Tingley said.

Roswell Park says they had to work with another hospital in New York state who were willing to provide Alex the drug he needed. Congressman Higgins says no family should have to deal with this stress.

“When people are facing a critical health situation of their own these drugs should be there for them and a lack of a reliable drug supply puts an unnecessary strain on the healthcare system, healthcare providers and healthcare patients,” Higgins said.

Higgins said the drugs impacted by the shortage are the one that aren’t as profitable for the manufacturer. Katie says that’s unacceptable and will end up hurting kids like Alex.

“It’s hard to understand how money could be something that hinders our child getting what he needs to survive and get better,” Katie said.

Alex is almost done with treatments at Roswell. The Hospital says they have enough of the drug to finish up his chemo.

More than 9,000 pediatric cancer professionals nationwide are calling for advocacy solutions to ensure children have access to the treatments they need.

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