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Aside from well-publicised supply problems in May 2017, the HSE has confirmed to the Medical Independent (MI) that “there was some other capacity issues experienced, but to a much lesser degree including some difficulties around Storm Ophelia and Storm Emma. These issues were also managed similarly.”
Baxter Healthcare Ltd is currently the only Irish-based provider of compounded systemic anti-cancer therapy (SACT). There are also a number of licensed UK-based suppliers who supply hospitals in Ireland.
In May 2017 Baxter Healthcare experienced a capacity issue. “A total of 10 hospitals were affected and 65 patients had their treatment delayed by one week or less, of these three were moved to another hospital for treatment and four had their treatment modified in some way,” according to a HSE spokesperson.
The Irish Cancer Society informed MI that with a reduction in the commercial supply of chemotherapy products, reduced competition for suppliers from outside markets to supplement hospital compounding facilities and the trade challenges a hard Brexit may pose to supply, “stringent policies and contingency plans” need to be put in place to ensure continuity and security of chemotherapy supply. “This is badly needed to avoid disruption and delays to treatment and the safe administration of treatment.”
The HSE National Service Plan 2018 “clearly recognises the challenges posed in managing increased demand for systemic anti-cancer therapy as the number of cancer patients grows, and clearly spells out the need to improve aseptic compounding units in Ireland to improve efficiency”, according to the Society spokesperson.
The Society plans on raising these issues with the HSE and the National Cancer Control Programme in the coming months.