Vincristine Shortage; Democrat Healthcare Vote; Cummings Drug Bill

October 21, 2019 by Chris Pirschel ONS Staff Writer/Producer, and Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

Vincristine Shortage Sign of Larger Issue

After news of the vincristine shortage affecting the cancer community ( made headlines in several news outlets, the country’s prescription medication issues took center stage again. It’s a sign of larger problem: supply, demand, and drug pricing ( are all enveloped in the same issue that’s directly affecting patients and their families.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the process and players involved in drug pricing (, looking for ways to get a broader range of cancer medications to market without losing efficacy and safety regulations. Maintaining a balance is the agency’s role, but lives are at stake in the process. As the discussion continues, few understand the impact of prescription medication issues as well as oncology nurses. Share your stories and experiences with lawmakers ( so they can make educated choices about key healthcare legislation. Join your voice to the ONS advocacy effort today (

Democrats Focus on Pushing Healthcare Vote

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)—known as Obamacare—is still under fire from the Trump administration and is likely to be the centerpiece of the healthcare conversation ( as we enter the 2020 presidential election. Democrats plan to force Republicans to make a difficult vote ( uphold portions of the ACA or vote against it with potential subsequent effects on their constituents. The choice will be especially telling for elected officials in vulnerable key states.

As more Americans demand solutions to access and affordable health care, particularly as medication prices soar (, Congress is putting its own members on notice that votes will be taken and lines will be drawn. Come November 2020, the American people have their chance to speak on how those decisions play out.

Drug Bill Named for Elijah Cummings

On October 17, 2019, U.S. Representative and House Congressional Chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee Elijah Cummings (D-MD) passed away. His support of healthcare initiatives was extensive (—especially concerning medication costs and accessibility issues for American. Drug costs have become the top issue in this year’s healthcare discussion ( It’s popular with Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate, and even President Trump is in favor of finding some legislation to lower costs for Americans (

In that vein, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), hoping to gain some traction from Cummings’ reputation,  named H.R. 3, the drug pricing bill, in his honor: ( a fitting tribute and one he likely would have been humbled to accept. In a strange way, Cummings’ passing could help spur bipartisan work to enact a bill on drug pricing. It’s a central issue to Americans and one that continues to plague patients with chronic diseases like cancer. Learn more about what Washington plans to do about the drug pricing issue—and earn free CNE—by listening to the Oncology Nursing Podcast (

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