War in Ukraine: Latest Picture on Cancer Medicines Shortages in Surrounding Countries

23 June 2022

Latest research published by the European Society of Oncology Pharmacists (ESOP) and the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) has revealed new insights on the present status of cancer medicines shortages in the countries surrounding Ukraine. According to a survey of pharmacists in 46 cancer centres and hospitals in seven countries surrounding Ukraine, 36% of the hospitals involved in the survey reported shortage of medications used to treat cancer.

The three cancer medicines most often reported in shortage are Oxaliplatin, Fluorouracil and Cisplatin. All three are generic (off-patent) medicines and are used in the provision of intravenous chemotherapy.

The survey was conducted from 31 March 2022 to 13 April 2022 and drew responses from Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

The full report of the survey results, published today, is available here.

The survey was conducted as part of an overall effort by the European Cancer Organisation-American Society of Clinical Oncology (ECO-ASCO) Special Network on the Impact of the War in Ukraine on Cancer to understand the present needs in countries welcoming displaced Ukrainian citizens with cancer, including any shortages of cancer medicines they may be experiencing. The report of the survey was jointly produced by ESOP and ECO, with input and support from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

Commenting on the report, Mirjam Crul, ESOP vice-president and ECO board member, said:

“Imagine having to flee from a terrible war whilst suffering from a severe illness such as cancer. And then – when you have reached a safer area, learning that the vital medicine you need is not available. In Europe, the supply of medicine is far too fragile, and shortages occur far too often. We should stop accepting that.”

"Cancer knows no borders and neither should we,” said Mark Lawler, Queen’s University Belfast and ECO board member. “We need to get the cancer drugs as quickly as we can to where they are most needed. Otherwise, we are not only failing Ukrainian cancer refugees but also cancer patients across Eastern Europe. We need to stand as one - Europeans against war and against cancer.”

Read the full report here.