Disgraceful. That’s the best description of the findings released recently that show unnecessary and damaging shortages of some cancer-treating drugs have led to relapses among some kids fighting cancer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and elsewhere.

It wasn’t the hospital’s fault. In fact, it was St. Jude that blew the whistle on this disgrace.

A St. Jude investigator, Dr. Monika Metzger, led a blue-ribbon team from Stanford University School of Medicine and Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, among others, in a study of what happens to children who lose access to a certain cancer-fighting drug and have to shift to substitute drugs during treatment.

Often, the results are shocking. The children get much sicker. They suffer from more severe side effects. Sometimes their cancer returns.

And it doesn’t have to be that way. Stronger regulation and oversight of drug supplies, plus better product and inventory management by private drug manufacturers, could fix this problem.

That kids are suffering needlessly because of glitches in our drug manufacturing processes is unacceptable.

— The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., Dec. 31

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