Breast cancer drug Tamoxifen back in stock at N.S. pharmacies

A shortage of Tamoxifen, an oral drug used to treat breast cancer, that began in the summer is pretty much over, says the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

"We've received confirmation that additional supply of Tamoxifen is now available to all community pharmacies in Nova Scotia," Dr. Drew Bethune, senior medical director of NSHA's cancer care program, said in a news release.

But the health authority is being cautious about future access to the drug, and is asking pharmacies to limit dispensing quantities to a one-month supply until the shortage is resolved.

A three-month supply is the usual amount for most patients.

"We are confident Nova Scotia will have enough drug to meet the needs of all patients," Bethune said.

Steve Lawrence/CBC

Shortages were first reported in August, according to drugshortagescanada.ca, which is the website where drug shortages and discontinuations in Canada are reported. The shortages were attributed to manufacturing disruptions.

The cancer care program contacted pharmacies and primary-care providers in mid-October to alert them to the Canada-wide shortage.

In November, a cancer patient from Halifax told CBC News she had to travel to Hubbards, N.S., to have her Tamoxifen prescription filled, while someone she knew had to go to the Annapolis Valley to have her prescription filled.

According to a statement from Health Canada, three companies who make the drug reported shortages in Canada this fall. One of them, Apotex Inc., had anticipated the shortage would end Dec. 31.

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