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At its executive management meeting in October, the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) discussed the patients who should be prioritised to receive tamoxifen as a result of the international shortage of the breast cancer medication, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.
The NCCP has engaged with the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to ascertain what impact the international shortage will have in Ireland.
The NCCP systemic anti-cancer therapy breast clinical advisory group also met to discuss a strategy to deal with the issue from an Irish perspective.
The National Advisor for Medical Oncology Prof Maccon Keane developed a proposal regarding alternative drugs available.
“Tamoxifen is to be prioritised for women who cannot tolerate generics – pre-menopause in adjuvant setting, some metastatic patients, etc,” according to the minutes of the 7 October meeting seen by MI through Freedom of Information law.
“Patients will have to go back to clinic for review.”
At the executive management meeting on 2 September 2019, also seen by this newspaper, Prof Keane stated that pharmacists have not been able to provide brand drugs, such as tamoxifen, and are “giving generics instead to which patients may have tolerance issues”.
The meeting heard that the matter needed to be brought to the attention of the HSE Drugs Group.
The Director of the NCCP Dr Jerome Coffey requested the reporting of any incidents of patients “not being able to source drugs at all as well as the substitution of drugs with generics for feedback to the Drugs Group”.
The HSE has been informed by the HPRA and the pharmaceutical companies that normal supplies of tamoxifen have been restored for certain brands.