Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Methotrexate Shortage And Me

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about the shortage of Methotrexate. 

If you haven’t, I’ll try and get you up to speed.  So, the main issue is with the preservative-free form of MTX that is used mainly to treat children who have Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. 

Puts a whole new spin on saving the children. 

The reason that this ends up affecting the whole pot of MTX – in other words all of the injectable forms – is because one of the major suppliers had some serious quality control issues that have severely diminished what was already a diminishing supply. 

I’ve read some accounts about this crisis that have been infuriating because they are uninformed, both from reporters and from people with RA, themselves. 

Some of these accounts suggest that the Methotrexate shortage won’t affect people with RA because most people take it orally.  In fact, I think that is dead wrong.  When I was on it orally, I was in the minority.  Most of the people that I knew that were taking it, were taking the injectable form.

The company that manufactures my MTX is discontinuing the size vial I currently get, 25 mL, and will instead be making 10 mL vials, thus cutting their supply literally in half.

A lot of people have asked me if I will be affected by the shortage, and my answer is now yes and no.

Yes, if I continue to be on MTX, the shortage will most certainly affect me.  This is really frustrating because I’ve finally got self-injection down, feel like I’ve found a treatment that works, and there may be a chance that I will have to switch meds. 

But I will NOT go back on the oral form.  At the time, since I didn’t have a point of comparison, I thought I tolerated oral MTX pretty well.  However, now that I am on the injectable kind, I realize how awful I felt while I was on the oral, especially the day I took it. 

But unfortunately for me, this matter has become more complicated.  I had my every-three-month blood work on Friday.  And I received a call from my rheumatologist’s office on Monday, informing me that my liver levels have increased yet again – from just a few weeks ago when I had labs drawn for something else, and my rheum claimed it was because I still had a high concentration of MTX in my body from Wednesday as opposed to Friday – so I am off of MTX for the next two weeks.  Then I need to have the labs re-drawn, and we’ll go from there. 

So I’m not sure if I will get to stay on MTX, which is frustrating since I feel like it is working pretty well, and I hate making med switches. 

I’m not sure if the silver lining is that if I have to go off of MTX, I won’t have to worry about how the shortage will affect me any more.  But   

Apparently, currently, there are hundreds of drugs that are at risk of running out.  It’s simply an issue of supply and demand.  But maybe if the government worked harder at finding cures for diseases instead of having to rely on medications that ravage our bodies, none of us would be in the position to worry about things like this.

We have enough to worry about.  Life with chronic illness is complicated.  We shouldn’t have to worry that there won’t be enough of the drugs we need to stay alive.  


  1. So sorry to hear you have to deal with having that terrible distraction and concern! I will hope that it is a lot of the false advertising that occurs in the pharmaceutical industry. I have had somewhat similar issues with some of the prescriptions I take and it can be defeating at times, but the good news is that because the pharmaceutical industry is so lucrative, there is always someone coming out with something new, as a means of making money, even if it is at our expense. I will keep my fingers crossed for you!

  2. I thought of you when I read about the shortages of MTX, Leslie. It sucks that a medicine that works well for so many people with so many diseases can be in such short supply! At least when I was dealing with shortages of Adderall, it was more a lifestyle thing than a keep-me-alive thing. (Lifestyle as in if I want to have a life since without it I have no energy for a life.)

    I'm a little worried for you about those liver levels and what it could end up meaning. Keeping my fingers crossed ...

  3. i can't stand to see things like this happening. is money so important that people really choose to look over the needs of people who are suffering with medications and illnesses?! all these medications and no cures. it's just.. ugh. there HAS to be some other way. and if i hadn't been looking up lupus blogs i wouldn't have come across yours. i created a website for people fighting Lupus because my mother has lupus and i see how it affects her everyday. i hope that the site can raise awareness with people who are more distant from life with lupus, and also i want it to be a place where people can support each other. we have a forum, and i think this post would be a good read for people who join our online community. you can have a look if you'd like at HTTP://ALOVELYFIGHTER.CO.CC . im sorry you were just getting adjusted to your medication and now you may have to get off it or change it.

  4. That stinks! :( I'm so sorry.

  5. FDA have their own "Drug-shortage team" has been working day and night to address such kind of problems. They have Announced APP pharmaceutical company had stopped supply of Methotrexate cancer medicines. I have read this blog and found renowned online pharmacy has come up with solution to provide such medicines at free of cost to help the victim people.