An ethical framework for responding to drug shortages in pediatric oncology

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2015 Jun;62(6):931-4. doi: 10.1002/pbc.25461. Epub 2015 Mar 2.


The frequency of drug shortages has increased considerably over the last decade. Important ethical issues arise whenever the supply of an effective drug is insufficient to meet demand. Using the ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice, institutions can guide prioritization of drug distribution before a shortage occurs to avoid unfair and unethical distribution of resources. This analysis will give a historical context for drug shortages, identify, and explore the central ethical concerns raised by drug shortages, and propose an ethical framework for addressing them in the context of pediatric oncology.

Keywords: chemotherapy; ethics; pediatric hematology/oncology; psychosocial; support care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / supply & distribution*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / ethics*
  • Pediatrics / ethics*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Antineoplastic Agents