VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The Canadian Cancer Society is asking the federal government to do something about a shortage of drugs needed for treating cancer patients. But the drug shortage could also cause problems for those living out the last days of their lives.

Wendy Wainwright is with the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association. “It is certainly going to have a very large impact the dying patient.”

She adds symptom management could be an issue but alternative medications to morphine and other pain pills are being looked into.

“It is my understanding that [health authorities] have prioritized palliative patients. So when they are thinking about how they are making decisions around patients receiving the drugs that they need, palliative and dying patients will be quite high on that list.”

Cancer caregivers also want the government to put systems in place to prevent these shortages from escalating.

The problem of drug shortages has been increasing over the last year, but escalated recently with the temporary shut-down of a plant in Quebec which makes 90 per cent of all injectable drugs used in the country. The Sandoz Canada plant is expected to resume production in the near future.

Last week, Health Canada said it’s working with the pharmaceutical industry to figure out alternate sources of drugs.