America’s Cancer Doctors Demand Action from Congress: Address Drug Shortages

Hundreds of Doctors Sign Open Letter; Launch Bold New Advocacy Campaign to End Shortages
For immediate release
April 17, 2024


Allison Miller

ALEXANDRIA, VA—Cancer doctors from across the U.S. are lending their voices to a new advocacy campaign to end drug shortages. Led by the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), nearly 500 oncology professionals have signed an open letter to Congress and the administration highlighting the severe impact of drug shortages on cancer care and urging swift action from lawmakers.

ASCO members will make their case in-person on Capitol Hill today, meeting with lawmakers to discuss long-term solutions during the 2024 ASCO Advocacy Summit. ASCO is also launching a new video campaign to share the experiences of several of these oncologists, reminding policymakers about the significant impact of shortages on patient care and the impossible choices facing cancer doctors as a result.

“It is almost unimaginable that we have to have conversations with patients and their families [where we say] that we know how to help them, but we don’t have the tools we need,” Ashley Sumrall, MD, FACP, explains in one of the videos. “I’ve had to sit with families and explain that their treatment would be delayed or that we would choose a similar [but less proven-effective] treatment because we didn’t have access to the drug that that person needed. It’s heartbreaking.”

The campaign comes as oncologists mark more than a year since supplies of essential and basic generic chemotherapy drugs, carboplatin and cisplatin, first went into shortage. The limited supply of those two drugs – mainstays of cancer treatment, commonly used to treat breast, lung, ovarian, and many other cancers – has threatened care and outcomes for roughly a half million people with cancer in the U.S. While availability improved through temporary relaxation of importation rules, other shortages have emerged, including those to treat common childhood cancers.

“The marketplace for these kinds of generic drugs is broken. The profit margin is so slim that many manufacturers stop making them and those that remain are unwilling or unable to invest in the facility improvements necessary to maintain reliable, quality drug supplies,” said Everett E. Vokes, MD, FASCO, Board Chair of the Association for Clinical Oncology.  “This race to the bottom in price and quality leads to drug shortages. We need Congress to act.”

Specifically, the doctors are asking lawmakers to pass policies that mitigate the economic factors driving generic drug makers out of the market, incentivize U.S. generic drug manufacturing, and give the Food and Drug Administration greater visibility into the supply chain. They’re also calling on their fellow cancer care providers to join them and sign the open letter to demonstrate the overwhelming concern in the cancer community.

“Every medical professional, patient, and family, who has experienced the impact of these shortages or is concerned about what ongoing shortages could mean in the future should sign the letter and send a message to their lawmakers,” said Vokes. “We need to make sure fixing cancer drug shortages is a top priority. Our patients can’t wait.”

To watch the videos and learn more about ASCO’s work on drug shortages visit:

About ASCO: 

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO®) is a 501 (c)(6) organization that represents nearly 50,000 oncology professionals who care for people living with cancer. Established by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. in 2019, ASCO works to ensure that all individuals with cancer have access to high quality, equitable care; that the cancer care delivery system supports optimal cancer care; and that our nation supports robust federal funding for research on the prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. Learn more at and follow us on Twitter at @ASCO.