Leucovorin Shortage Update

The Food and Drug Administration has updated information on the shortage of leucovorin as of January 21, 2009.

  • Teva Parenteral Medicines reports a shortage of Leucovorin Calcium Lyophilized Powder for Injection due to “Increase in Demand”.
  • Bedford Laboratories reports a shortage of Leucovorin Calcium Solution for Injection and Leucovorin Calcium Lyophilized Powder for Injection due to “Manufacturing Delays.”

Further information:

  • Please call 1-888-TevaUSA for additional information. Teva is manufacturing at full capacity.
  • Bedford Customer Service 1-440-232-3320

If you are a physician or patient who is currently experiencing difficulties because of the shortage of leucovorin, C3 needs your input as we work on this problem on behalf of patients.  You can email the C3 Director of Research Communication, call the C3 Answer Line at 877-4CRC-111 (877-427-2111), or leave a comment below.

Comments

  1. kerri fales says

    my dad just started his chemo treatment, he is stage 4 of colon cancer, he needs the leucovorin. Who can I get in contact with to find out about this. Their manufacturing delays are impacting my fathers survival.

  2. Kate Murphy says

    Dan,

    The last FDA update on the leucovorin shortage was on January 21st. At that time, Teva was at full manufacturing capacity trying to meet increased demand, but Bedford was experiencing “manufacturing delays.”

    C3 continues to push for solutions to this shortage but also how the FDA can be more proactive in preventing shortages of other medicines that are essential for cancer patients.

  3. Dan says

    I am receiving FOLFIRI every 2 weeks and my last treatment I was not given any Leucovorin. My oncologist did not have any. This is either part of optimal treatment or it is not.

    Where is the oversight?

  4. Kate Murphy says

    Claire,

    I doubt that your husband’s postponed treatments or lowered doses of chemotherapy are due to leucovorin shortages.

    Lowered cell counts, especially when they lead to infection, are serious issues. Usually the doctor will reduce the chemo dose or skip treatments until counts improve and infections go away.

    While this worries patients, finding the right dose for each patient involves balancing. Good oncologists weigh blood counts, potential infection, and other side effects for each patients with each treatment.

    Sometimes doses are lowered or treatments postponed. It is really for the patient’s overall benefit.

    However, we all continue to be concerned that leucovorin will be available for every patient who needs it. We are now hearing more stories of patients who were treated with 5-FU alone when leucovorin was not there for them.

  5. Claire says

    I also just remembered that the doctor lowered his dosage recently… this is all making me wonder if it because of the shortage (that they haven’t mentioned before- maybe it’s not affecting them greatly), or if it really is just the doctor’s decision.

  6. Claire says

    My husband is currently undergoing chemo with this Leucovorin drug and the 5FU simultaniously, for his post-operative treatments. Although he receives the chemo bi-weekly, he has been forced to postpone some of his treatments for a week or so due to medical issues (low WBC and infections), but I wonder if it’s not due to the shortage sometimes. I worry because he has 2+ months of treatments left and this is supposed to increase his chances of living longer! I will follow this closely, and thank you to whoever has posted this- we will bring it up to his oncologist at the next appointment and start asking more questions.
    C

  7. Patricia DiFonzo says

    I am a colon cancer patient who was diagnosed stage 4 over two years ago. I have been on 5FU and Leucovorin since the beginning of my treatment with other chemos combined. I have also had liver embolizations. At my last treatment I only received 25% of the amount of Leucovorin I usually receive with the chemo. Since this agent enhances the binding of the 5 FU to an enzyme inside of the cancer cells, it prolongs the life of the chemo resulting in a greater chance of shrinkage of the tumors. My tumors are getting larger and not having this drug will make matters much worse. What is the government doing to assure shortages like this do not occur? If one or two companies can’t produce it in order to meet the demand, manufacture should be allowed by other sources.We are not talking about shortages of beef or ice cream. Drugs like this are life or death situations and one or two companies should not be allowed to control production if they cannot meet the needs of patients throughout the country. Is Washington even concerned about this problem?

  8. Kate Murphy says

    We don’t know when the shortage will be resolved. You can call the manufacturers, Bedford and Teva, at the numbers listed above for more information.

    If your sister has a delay in her treatment or is treated without leucovorin, please call the C3 Answer Line and give us that information so we can use it in our advocacy.

    C3 Answer Line: 1-877-4CRC-111

  9. Ellen OConnor says

    I have a sister who needs this Leucovorin Calcium. When will this shortage be resolved? What exactly are the manufacturing delays referred to for the shortage with Bedford Laboratories? Who else can we correspond with to get faster results?

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