Nova Scotia Health Authority meeting needs of Nova Scotians taking Tamoxifen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HALIFAX, N.S. – Nova Scotia Health Authority’s (NSHA) Cancer Care team understands the Canada-wide shortage of the breast cancer drug, Tamoxifen, is very concerning for patients who are taking it – either as a cancer treatment or as a preventative measure to keep the cancer from returning. Please be assured that this drug is still available in Nova Scotia.

Our Cancer Care team also knows that community pharmacies, family doctors and other primary care providers want guidance on information for sharing with patients.

“We want patients to know that our Cancer Care Program is working with national and local partners, including the Department of Health and Wellness, to manage the current supply of the drug we have and to develop a plan we can put in place if the shortage isn’t resolved,” said Dr. Drew Bethune, senior medical director of NSHA’s Cancer Care Program.

“Patients should know there is still drug available in Nova Scotia,” Dr. Bethune said.

“We have asked pharmacies to limit the amount of drug they give each patient to a one-month supply. This is to help manage and share the drug we have. This is a temporary measure, in the hope that this will be enough to ensure every Nova Scotian that needs the drug is able to get enough to see them through until the end of January when the shortage is expected to be resolved.”

NSHA’s Cancer Care Program has set up a toll-free Tamoxifen information line, which patients and health care providers may call for basic information. The number is 1-844-989-1502.

The Cancer Care Program reached out to pharmacies and primary care providers in the middle of October to make them aware of this Canada-wide shortage.

As part of the communication, the program asked pharmacies that no longer have the drug to contact other pharmacies that may still have supply if a patient comes in to fill a prescription.

Cancer Care Program staff also informed family doctors and other primary care providers that the drug continues to work in a person’s system for a number of weeks after they have stopped taking it, so short gaps in taking the medication are not  harmful.

Primary care providers know that the first step is to call the toll-free Tamoxifen information line and that if they have concerns about a specific patient, they can speak with a medical oncologist or send a referral for the patient to have a consultation with a medical oncologist.

NSHA thanks patients, their families and pharmacies for their patience and understanding as we work together to ensure that this national shortage of Tamoxifen is managed responsibly and, most importantly, effectively for our patients, who remain our top priority. Thank you again for your understanding.

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Provincial Media Line: 1-844-483-3344

About Nova Scotia Health Authority
Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) provides health services to Nova Scotians and a wide array of specialized services to Maritimers and Atlantic Canadians. NSHA operates hospitals, health centres and community-based programs across the province. Our team of health professionals includes employees, doctors, researchers, learners and volunteers. We work in partnership with community groups, schools, governments, foundations and auxiliaries and community health boards. Visit www.nshealth.ca for more.