Shortage in cancer drug Taxol worries patients, doctors

A sample of prescription medication is seen in this file photo.

Patients and doctors report a shortage of the most widely used drug to fight ovarian cancer. Taxol, a life-saving drug used to fight both ovarian and breast cancers, is the latest drug added to the list of cancer drugs which are becoming increasingly difficult to find by doctors to treat their patients.

One of those patients is Rachel Navatta, who is battling ovarian cancer. She received a different drug for her chemo treatment Wednesday. As the chemo drug dripped slowly, the 54-year-old mother talked to ABC7’s Jennifer Donelan.

Navatta said it was important to talk about the fight for her life.

"It's very hard to talk about but of course you have to go to work, you have to take care of your kids so you just do it,” she said. In her 4-year-battle against cancer, she now has to take into account the shortage in chemotherapy drug Taxol.

"I am really kinda shocked, I didn't realize there was a shortage," she said.

Leading oncologist Dr. Annette Bicher is frustrated. "It's more that we just can't get a hold of the drug,” Bicher said. About 40 patients at the Annandale practice are receiving Taxol.

Local doctors estimate that a reason for the shortage lies in reduced Medicare payments. Because the insurance program is reimbursing doctors at a lower rate for using Taxol, drug companies may be reducing their supplies. One Taxol manufacturer said their shortage is due to high demand