Drug shortage impacts Summerville woman’s breast cancer treatment

Local News

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD)– Summerville mother, Emily Hooper, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2019.

“During Hurricane Dorian, I discovered a lump and I almost knew immediately this is not right,” said Hooper.

She began treatment on her 38th birthday.

“I have undergone 16 rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and radiation. Surgeries follow after that because some surgeries don’t take. There are lots of scars and there are a lot of surgeries and I am still not done,” she said.

On Monday, her oncologist told her they did not have the Lupron injections she gets monthly.

“My heart just broke. To think oh my goodness this is awful for families to hear for anyone battling cancer that you cannot get the drugs that should be readily available for anyone having treatment,” she said. “The drug your doctor prescribes,” she added.

The medication suppresses hormones to keep her cancer at bay. According to Hooper, the doctor said the other option is an older drug that’s not used as much.

“[They said] ‘it’s probably our second choice to want to give you but we have this’ and that was my options—those are tough options to hear that you are not going to get the medication that you really need,” she said.

According to the FDA’s website the shortage is due to a delay in shipping of the drug.

“It is hard, it’s very hard to know there is a nationwide shortage of stuff that could be helping me more if I was taking the medication but it’s not there and to think that there are other families dealing with this it’s heartbreaking it really is,” she said. “You think this should not be happening. And it feels like it is out of your control,” she continued.

Hooper is undergoing treatments at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Hollings Cancer Center. In a statement, a spokesperson said the shortage was natural and caused a delay in production.

“Initially, this started about 3 months ago and was only having an impact on the 22.5 mg and 30 mg kits that we typically use for our prostate cancer patients, but is now also impacting the 3.75 mg and 11.25 mg gyn kits that we use in many of the breast and gyn onc patients,” said a spokesperson.

According to the statement, treatment has continued for patients.

The spokesperson went on to write that providers have been working with prescribers to transition other therapies including Trelstar and Zoladex for breast cancer patients.

“Throughout all of this, no patient has gone without treatment or has been delayed due to any reason related to the shortage. This shortage is one of many we have faced this year, and it is being handled and addressed, while still allowing us to provide excellent patient care,”

MUSC Spokesperson

“I think more should be done to figure out why this is happening in the United States because it is there and you just don’t hear about it,” she said.

Hooper contacted News 2 in an effort to raise awareness about drug shortages.

“At first I thought well this is it- this is just what I am having to deal with, and then I said no. I do have a voice, I am still here. As a small voice, you have to keep fighting. And that kinda kept me going and I said, “I have too much to fight for’ so I will, I will,” she continued.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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