NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Cancer has made its way into Jen Lewis’ life.
“My journey started in April of this past year,” the Nashville woman said. “I felt something, and so I immediately went in and got it checked, and then I found out on May 4 that I had breast cancer.”
According to Lewis, she had two types of cancer: ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and invasive mammary carcinoma. By June, her chemotherapy began, but a problem soon arose.
“I was able to receive it in June, but at the beginning of July when I was supposed to get it, they didn’t have any,” said Lewis.
Carboplatin is a drug used to treat breast cancer. However, Lewis’ oncology center cannot access it.
“I was told by my oncologist, ‘Hey, there’s a shortage, we’re trying to find some. I’m going to keep it in your regimen, I’m going to keep it in your plan so that if we get it, then you get it,'” Lewis recalled.
“Unfortunately, there aren’t very many factories that make these chemotherapy drugs, and one factory that made half of the United States’ supply of cisplatin is a factory in India,” said Erin Fox, the associate chief pharmacy officer at the University of Utah Health.
Due to several violations, Fox said the FDA closed down production last fall.
“Because they made half of the U.S. supply, the other companies were unable to ramp up in time and make up the difference,” she explained.
Lewis said she’s been reaching out to her elected officials, hoping they can do more.
“We’ve known about this quality control issue since November of last year, and our country cannot make a generic chemotherapy drug,” she said. “I don’t understand it.”
Right now, all Lewis can do is wait and hope something more can be done.
“We have to stop caring about ourselves and just right now,” she said. “We have to start thinking about the generations to come, and if we don’t fix this problem right now, it’s only going to hit women younger and younger.”
According to Lewis, she still has to undergo eight more treatments, but she’s hoping to finish by November.
Meanwhile, the FDA is reportedly working with a Chinese drug maker to import cisplatin amid the ongoing shortage.