Cancer drugs may be 'blackout' in Brazil due to lack of federal funding

The production of radiopharmaceuticals used for diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, such as cancer, may be halted in Brazil as of 10 in September due to lack of federal funding.

The alert was given by Ipen (Institute for Energy and Nuclear Research), an agency linked to the CNEN (National Nuclear Energy Commission) and the main producer of materials that serve as the basis for these drugs in the country.

In an official letter disclosed to nuclear medicine services, to which the Sheet had access, it was stated that the unfavorable exchange rate and the cut in the CNEN budget resulted in the reduction of the funds available to Ipen and, as a consequence, in this situation of risk, continuity of production.

Radiopharmaceuticals are essential medicines for nuclear medicine, a specialty that uses small quantities of radioactive materials for treatment and the diagnosis of various illnesses.

The impact of the production stoppage should mainly affect cardiac and cancer patients cos, explains George Coura, president of the SBMN (Brazilian Society of Nuclear Medicine).

In addition to the areas of cancer and heart problems, there are also applications of radiopharmaceuticals for dementia and epilepsy, among other diseases , .

Estimates by the SBMN indicate that these drugs should be used in 1.5 million to 2 million procedures, such as radiotherapy, each year.

Na time when the medications run out, from 5.000 to 10. patients a day will not have access to the procedures, says Coura.

An example of an examination in nuclear medicine is myocardial perfusion scintigraphy. It indicates whether or not a patient is at risk of suffering a heart attack.

From there, the doctor is able to decide whether the person needs an intervention, such as surgery, or whether drug treatment is followed.

Another case in which radiopharmaceuticals are used is, for example, in the treatment of thyroid cancer.

After removing the gland, patients normally receive radioactive iodine. This serves so that they have a greater chance of cure and a decrease in the probability of the disease to show itself again.

Coura states that, without this iodine produced by Ipen, some patients may not have a cure of this disease as one would normally expect.

To solve the situation, mentioned in the letter is the existence of a bill that seeks approval of extra resources, in the amount of R$ 34, 6 million reais, CNEN.

It is also informed that the MCTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation), of which Inpe and CNEN are part, is committed in getting more R$ 55, 1 million reais that would be destined to the production of radiopharmaceuticals. even a rapporteur was appointed. It may take a while for it to be appreciated, for it to have suggestions for amendments, for it to pass to the Senate. So it can be a long process, during which the patients may be left unattended, says the president of the medical society. avoid discontinuity, even receiving advice from the General Counsel of the Union (AGU), in this context.”

Wanted by Folha , the press office of CNEN informed that the Ministry is “conducting the matter”.

Also contacted, Ipen and MCTI did not manifest themselves until the conclusion of the report.

My claim that the federal agencies look with affection and compassion on these patients and seek faster alternatives, such as other funding routes or contingencies,” says Coura.

“Other alternatives than a bill that needs to be processed in the House and Senate, due to the emergency nature of the shortage, he concludes.

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