Childhood Cancer Drug Shortage

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
February 14, 2012




Children with cancer are facing a crisis – a drug shortage that could threaten thousands of lives. You can “Speak Up” and demand change. Methotrexate, the most-advanced and most-effective drug to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, as well as other types of cancer, is in short supply.

At this time, it is unknown when this supply will be replenished. The reasons for drug shortages are complex, and there is no easy solution, but Dr. Peter Adamson, chairman of the Children’s Oncology Group, the nation’s pediatric clinical trials network, speaks to the urgency of the issue: “The methotrexate shortage is so acute that kids’ lives are in immediate jeopardy.” Not all hospitals have begun to experience the shortage, but many have only enough to last a short while, in some cases just days. Others have already begun rationing.

For patients with ALL, like 5-year-old Collin, who depend on this drug for survival, this is a matter of life or death. Collin, who was diagnosed with ALL at age 2, has already endured 3 ½ years of chemotherapy treatment. He relapsed, which cut his survival rate nearly in half and added two additional years to his chemotherapy regimen. Methotrexate is a critical drug in Collin’s treatment. “The loss of the drug methotrexate would essentially sign his death certificate,” said Kathleen Henry, Collin’s mom.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, all four pharmaceutical companies that make methotrexate have either slowed or stopped production.

Dr. Michael P. Link, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, as reported in the New York Times, “This is a crisis that I hope the F.D.A.’s hard work can help to avert,” said Link. “We have worked very hard to take what was an incurable disease (ALL) and make it curable for 90 percent of the cases. But if we can’t get this drug anymore, that sets us back decades.”

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation urges you to:

Contact the companies that make methotrexate. Tell them why it’s critical they:

  1. Prioritize production of the preservative-free form of the drug
  2. Work with the FDA to import preservative-free methotrexate if available

Contact your Members of Congress:

  1. Tell them about the problem
  2. Ask them to contact the manufacturers of methotrexate. The companies are located in Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Their names, addresses and email addresses are listed below.

To identify your Member of Congress, click here. Please “Speak Up” for children with cancer today.

In service of our children,

Kathleen Ruddy
Executive Director
St. Baldrick’s Foundation


U.S. Manufacturers of Methotrexate

F. Michael Ball
Chief Executive Officer
Hospira, Inc.
275 North Field Drive
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045
Contact Hospira, Inc.

Heather Bresch
Chief Executive Officer
Mylan, Inc. 1500 Corporate Drive
Canonsburg, PA 15317
Contact Mylan, Inc.

Donald DeGolyer
President, Sandoz US Head, Commercial Operations, NA Sandoz, Inc.
506 Carnegie Center, Suite 400
Princeton, NJ 08540
Contact Sandoz, Inc.

John Ducker
President and Chief Executive Officer APP
Pharmaceuticals, LLC
1501 East Woodfield Road, Suite 300
East Schaumburg, IL 60173-5837
Contact APP Pharmaceuticals, LLC