News

Bevacizumab shortage: Vital cancer drug to be imported in a week

  • MSD acknowledges supply and legal problems

By Pamodi Waravita

The Health Ministry’s Medical Supplies Division (MSD) yesterday (21) told The Morning that the drug known as bevacizumab, vital for the treatment of a number of cancers affecting a number of organs in the body and usually administered as an injection, will be imported to the country within a week, following a recent shortage in its supply.

“The supply chain of many drugs in this category, including tocilizumab, also faced a number of problems this year, as they were used as alternatives in the treatment of Covid-19 by various countries. Although we placed our orders on time, we had to face these issues. Bevacizumab in particular faced a legal problem between two of its suppliers, which has led to this delay. However, it will be in the country within a week,” said officials at the MSD.

Family members of patients who receive treatment from the National Cancer Institute/Apeksha Hospital, Maharagama, told The Morning that the drug could not be found anywhere in the country this month. “This drug is administered on a bi-weekly basis. However, it was not there at the National Cancer Institute/Apeksha Hospital, Maharagama, this month, and we have also not been able to find it from any supplier either. The authorities are silent on the matter,” family members of a patient told The Morning on Monday (18).

Earlier this year, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa raised concerns about the shortage of tocilizumab in Parliament, noting an urgent need for it as it is deemed essential for the treatment of Covid-19 patients who are in a critical condition.