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Etoposide Supply Interruption

Canada is facing a shortage of intravenous (IV) and oral etoposide that is also affecting other countries, including the United States.

Etoposide is a cancer drug that is commonly used to treat lung cancer, testicular cancer and lymphoma. It is also used for treating other cancers and is part of the preparative regimen used prior to a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) in adults and pediatric patients.

Etoposide has two manufacturers (Sandoz and Teva) supplying injectable product to the Canadian market, and one manufacturer (Bristol-Myers Squibb [BMS]), supplying capsules for oral use.

The manufacturers have indicated the supply interruption is due to challenges they are experiencing with manufacturing and/or shipping of the drug.

At this time, it is not known how long the shortage will last or if additional supplies can be obtained in Ontario for the duration of the shortage. Drug manufacturers report all drug shortages to the Drug Shortages Canada website.

The provincial priority is for hospitals to conserve limited supplies for the most acute needs. When there is a limited supply of a drug, a patient’s care team will identify alternative treatments that are available. This helps to ensure that patients who can safely take an alternative drug can continue their treatment. This also allows patients who can’t safely use an alternative drug to continue their treatment with the limited supply of the drug.

Unfortunately, drug shortages are a recurring and ongoing national and international issue not only for cancer drugs but for drugs in general. In a time of shortage, patients remain our top priority and we will continue to support hospitals so that patients can continue to receive safe and effective cancer treatments. Understandably, patients may be concerned if their treatment plan has changed, and should speak to their oncologists if they have questions about their treatment.

Details on all drug updates can be found on