New Leucovorin Shortage Should Be Fixed Soon

Patients are telling C3 that they are being turned away from scheduled cancer treatment because of a new shortage of leucovorin, a drug that is commonly used in colon and rectal cancer treatment.  However, good news is on the way.

TEVA Pharmaceuticals has told the Food and Drug Administration that they are shipping back orders of leucovorin now and that the drug should be in oncology clinics and doctor’s offices next week.

The FDA has put leucovorin on its drugs shortages list, citing manufacturing delays as the reason.   The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (AHSP) has additional details on the shortage.

Leucovorin (folinic acid) boosts the activity of fluorouracil (5-FU) and is part of many colorectal cancer treatments  In the United States it is manufactured by only two companies: Bedford Laboratories and TEVA.

Another leucovorin product, levoleucovorin or Fusilev®, is also available, although not in generic form.  The AHSP warns that Fusilev is stronger than leucovorin and dosing should be carefully considered.  Giving a dose of Fusilev that is the same as leucovorin can lead to overdoses and serious adverse events.  Fusilev is also considerably more expensive.

If you are a patient and are having difficulty getting leucovorin for your current treatment, let us know.  You can comment below or to call the C3 Answer Line at 877-4CRC-111 (877-427-2111).


  1. Shane Crausby says

    My father was in remission in January from colon cancer. He has been taking the 5-Fu once per week for preventative measures. He has not been able to receive any leucovorin since he was in remission.

    Last week we had another PET scan and the doctor told us that it had advance to Stage IV. Now he is fighting for his life and we dont know what to do.

    I believe that these manufacturers should be held liable if they didnt produce this drug based on low profits. Does anyone know if anyone has sued or is in the process of suing the manufacturers?

  2. Kate Murphy says

    Since we posted this optimistic message a year ago, there has been little improvement in the availability of leucovorin.

    And significantly more cancer drugs have been added to the shortage list, including some for children with cancer for whom there are no other treatment choices.

    Unfortunately, the US government cannot compel any company to manufacture a medicine. Some action is underway in the Senate to improve communications about potential shortages before they become acute so the FDA and doctors can plan ahead.

    On February 7, 2011 Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.)introduced a bill to address the issue of drug shortages. The legislation, S.296, would require manufacturers to notify the FDA of problems that might lead to shortages at least 6 months in advance. The FDA would also have to publish this information on their website.

    We empathize with our readers who haven’t been able to get leucovorin. It is a tough problem that is hard to fix.

  3. Fred Sauder says

    My wife’s doctor admitted that the drug company doesn’t make Leucovorin because there is not enough money in it for them. Now her tumor markers have shot up so much that the doctor has stopped chemo. Her only hope now is some clinical trials. People are put in jail for withholding treatment to children. Is this any different.

  4. Elizabeth Foster says

    I am fighting for my life with stage 4 colon cancer. I’m extremely upset when I go for treatment and I’m told that leucovorin is not available. I would like to know the reason as this is is an important part of treatment success.

  5. Trevor Kempsell says

    I’ve just finished my 9th FOLFOX4 treatment for Colon cancer. For my last two treatments there was still no Leucovorin. Any one else having better luck or information on availablity?

  6. Marlene says

    Leucovorin is a drug used along with other drugs to fight colon cancer. Leucovorin is no longer available to patients like my daughter, who has been in treatment for the past 2yrs now.
    We must not allow drug companys to get by like this. I guess the people who make these decisions don’t get Cancer, if they did I am sure they would change their minds!! Please help us in this fight against all Cancers!

  7. Emily says

    What a shame a colorectal cancer inhibiter is being withheld from patients who are fighting for their lives. I wonder if it would be any different if the powers who make these decisions were battling this cancer?

  8. Jaime says

    It is a disgrace when a treatment that is favored by patients becomes unavailable to them. This is a horrible situation that needs to be attend to.

  9. Julie says

    What a disgrace that cancer patients who need Leucovorin in the US are not able to get it at this time. As we all know, cancer left untreated will spread. If this is the part of the treatment that helps it not grow, why is it not available???? I don’t want to lose my friend who is fighting the fight of her life because the drug company is not manufacturing the drug at the moment. Shame on the drug company!!!

  10. Karen says

    I am a colon cancer patient, who is in treatment for the second time. I have been on infusion treatments for two years and because of the shortage and the lack of production of Leucovorin available, I also have not been able to have my full tretment for the past couple of months.

    It is a disgrace when, as a patient, you not only have to worry about your disease,your insurance, your job, and you now have to fight to get the medicine that was helping you.

    These shortages are not just hurting the patients and thier families. They are greatly effecting the nurses and doctors who have to explain that they do not have the medicines they need to treat them.

    Please share this information with anyone who will help by writing comments on this issue. Leucovorin is not the only medicine that is on a shortage list and cancer is not the only disease these shortages,and so called changes to our health care system are going to effect.

  11. Karla Valiente says

    My mom started her chemo treatments in July, Stage 3 Colon Cancer. This is the second time they didn’t have it for her treatments. The first time she took treatment w/out it and she was pretty sick. So Dr. gave her a bye week incase they get some in because she really didn’t want treatment again w/out it. The nurse was told by her suppliers that the Government shut down some of there plants. Why would they do that is it because it actually helps people. I can’t understand why there has been a shortage for all these years. I’ve been reading articles and comments made from 2008.
    Our healthcare in US needs IMPROVEMENT!
    i agree w/ Robert a class action lawsuit may be the kick in the ass these companys need.

  12. Ann Moore says

    This is unacceptable and it is a shame that there is shortage that exists in this country. Human beings are being affected mentally, physically and emotionally as we see ourselves on a roller coast for survival. Needless to say that this shortage is also affecting our loves ones who are standing in the gap for us and they are feeling sadden that their love one is not treasured nor valued with care. You need to place their needs for this leucovorin with urgency and as a priority to live out our lives with comfort that all is being done to give us hope. Need to take responsibilities and found and create another option for this shortage by making other arrangements for those who are going for treatment! How would you feel if you had a love one and you had failed them by not providing them adequate treatment?

    We are at a local small town hospital begging and seeking for the leucovorin at the big cities hospital that have an over flow of stock but we were turned away. Our doctor’s offices were informed by the bigger hospital “We have our own patients and we do not want to them to go without so we will not jeopardize our supply for your needs” Sad attitude of only be concern about themselves , self-interest, self-centeredness and selfishness and I would hate to think if this water we needed what would happen. HELLLLP US PLEASE stop the shortage please.

  13. Trevor Kempsell says

    RE: Leucovorin for injection in Canada

    Its available in every country except USA. Its illegal to ship prescription drugs to the US. If I went to Canada for treatment I would have to pay for all the FOLFOX4 Chems. The Oxaliplatin for example is billed at $8,500 for 150ml each two week cycle. My bi-weekly charges are $10,0000. This is covered by Medicare, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield who actually only pay about 25% of the billed ammount. I pay nothing as I am fully insured in the US.

    If you are not insured you liable for the BILLED amount!
    The whole charges and billing and medical insurnce in the US is SCREWED UP OR WHAT!

  14. Beth Wright says

    My 90th chemo treatment today for stage IV colon cancer that spread to my liver. I was diagnosed in 2007 and have been on Avastin, 5FU and Leucoverin. No surgery was recommended as my liver was so full of cancer. My colon tumor is no longer visible and my liver spots have gone from ‘too numerous to count’ in my first scan to ‘five visible spots’ in my latest scan. This treatment is working. But today, my oncologist let me know he has no Leucoverin to give me and won’t have any til at least January.

    I never in a zillion years thought that my treatment and hopes of continuing on would be based on a drug company! I am not famous and my life probably doesn’t matter to people who don’t know me, but it matters to me and my family. Needless to say I am not happy.

    Colon cancer kills more people than any other cancer. C’mon, get your act together, stop worrying about your profit margin and save some lives. I for one would forever grateful.

  15. Trevor Kempsell says

    I talked to Bedford Labs customer service 12:05 EST 18 Oct 2010 about the unavailability of Leucovorin calcium for injection and Quote “They are shipping product, but becouse of the Teva non production they are having to supply nation wide, priority is Hospital orders, Acute care facility orders, and the rest clinics etc.”

    Looks like the best chance for us to get treatment is through a hospital.

  16. Trevor Kempsell says

    I talked to Teva customer service 11:15 EST 18 Oct 2010 about the unavailability of Leucovorin calcium for injection and Quote “On back order, not shipping, no date for shipping. Reason PLANT UNDER FDA PROCESS REVIEW”

    TEVA is blaming the FDA.

  17. Matt says

    My father is scheduled to begin his first round of chemo in 3 days and has already been told Leucovorin will not be a part of his treatments due to the shortage. This is unacceptable and it is a shame that a shortage (of any kind of life saving medication for that matter) can be allowed to occur!

  18. Susan says

    My husband started his treatment for colon cancer 10/6. Leucovorin was not included in his treatment because of the shortage.

  19. Donald T. Myers says

    I was diagnosed with Colorectal Cancer in July. I started weekly Chemo treatments Sept. 13. I typically receive treatments of Leucovorin, I guess, to enhance the effectivness of the 5-FU. Because of this ‘so called’ shortage my last 2 treatments did not include it.

    I’m down with Robert Dierker, ESQ.

  20. Julius Soter says

    My oncologist was unable to include leucovorin in my chemo treatment yesterday, citing the shortage. I have been getting chemo treatments since December 2009 and so far progress has been very good. I pray that this shortage will be not be long and that my progress will not be impeded. I think that the manufacturers’ responses when questioned about the shortages are wholly inadequate. I’m no fan of government but I certainly think that Congress should hold hearings as to the reasons for these shortages.

  21. Robert Dierker, Esq says

    I was denied leucovorin treatment yesterday. This shortage is criminal negligence. It is killing people. I am an attorney. If you would like to participate in a class action lawsuit and force these incompetent pharmaceutical bandits to pay through the nose via civil and criminal charges, please contact me. It will be item #1 on my bucket list.

  22. William Barber says

    Unfortunately, my husband is also having a problem with his chemo, due to this shortage. Thinks have been going so well, and then this. Since Medicare will not pay for the Fuseliv, he and many others in his situation are having difficulties with chemo. Sh
    ame on the manufacturer(s) for letting this happen!
    Lets all hope that they get their act together soon.

  23. Deborah Anderson says

    My mother did not receive her leucovorin treatment at chemo today (Indianapolis, IN). When will this drug be in? She was progressing extremely well with her Stage IV diagnosis. I pray that the leucovorin manufacturers get this medicine to all the chemo patients immediately!!!!

  24. MA O'Brien says

    My husband went today and they did not have full amount and another patient had to go without. This is a shame!!

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