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FDA Steps In To Ease Critical Cancer Drug Shortage

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(CBS/AP) – The federal government is stepping in to help ease the shortage of two life-saving cancer drugs, Doxil and methotrexate, regulators announced Tuesday.

The FDA said it will temporarily allow importation of a replacement drug for Doxil, a drug for ovarian and other cancers that hasn’t been available for new patients for months.

The agency also approved another supplier for a preservative-free version of methotrexate, a crucial drug for children with a type of leukemia calledacute lymphoblastic leukemia and for high-dose treatment of bone cancer. The version with preservatives can be toxic or cause paralysis in children and other patients getting the drug high doses.

The FDA also has approved the release of a batch manufactured by Ben Venue Laboratories Inc., shortly before it closed several factories and its complex in Bedford, Ohio, possibly for a year, due to serious quality problems. That closing is what turned the on-again, off-again methotrexate shortage that began in late 2008 into a crisis almost overnight, with fears that patients would begin missing treatments as soon as the end of this month.

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