Cancer patients' treatment delayed by a week
At least 60 cancer patients have had their chemotherapy treatment postponed or reduced for up to a week as several hospitals struggle to cope with a shortage of chemotherapy drugs.
The Irish Independent understands that scores of patients around the country, who need to have chemotherapy intravenously as part of the care prescribed by their oncologist, are suffering delays.
In Sligo, 17 cancer patients are without vital chemotherapy until some time next week.
It follows revelations that Baxter Healthcare - the only commercial supplier of this form of compounded chemotherapy in the country - has had to stop production because of manufacturing problems for the past two weeks. It will be at least the middle of next week before it can resume service to public and private hospitals.
Asked about the impact of the shortage on a patient's prognosis, a number of doctors stressed the best care involves proper doses of chemotherapy at the right time as prescribed.
Doctors have had to give several patients lower doses, administer alternative therapies or put treatment on hold.
Oncologist John Crown warned that an international company providing a crucial public service "should have sufficient back-up systems".