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The Boston Globe


Human toll emerging in shortage of some cancer drugs

Dozens of cancer drugs have been in short supply in recent years as manufacturers closed factories, stopped making products, or halted operations because of quality control problems. Researchers have struggled to quantify the effect shortages have had on patient care, and an article published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine ­advances that effort.

When a factory closure in 2010 resulted in the shortage of a key drug used to treat children and adolescents with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, doctors thought a comparable drug ­already on the market would provide a suitable substitute. But a study found that the people who received the substitute were more likely to relapse, requiring more aggressive care and sometimes suffering severe side effects.

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