Vincristine Shortage

The drug vincristine is utilized in the treatment of many types of pediatric cancer including leukemias, lymphomas, and brain tumors. It has been touted as a major reason that pediatric cancer has an 85% cure rate, however, it has no close substitutes and, as of July, only one supplier. The supplier, Pfizer, has experienced manufacturing troubles and is rallying to expedite additional shipments of vincristine to compensate for the other supplier’s withdrawal from the market. As of October 16, the FDA announced that the deliveries of the drug will resume at the end of October, but the shortages are likely to continue through the end of December.

While doctors wait for production to resume, they have begun to work with alternate distributors, often at a significant markup, to obtain the drug. As vincristine is used to treat about 80% of the 19,000 children diagnosed with cancer each year, it is an invaluable commodity for those in treatment. The shortage has driven many families to social media, where they have created awareness campaigns and petition drives in the hope of regaining a steady supply of vincristine. It has even caused the world’s leading pediatric cancer research collaboration, the Children’s Oncology Group, to issue a call to action for providers and researchers to create advocacy strategies for maintaining drug supplies. Children’s Oncology Group chair and pediatric oncologist Peter C. Adamson summarizes, “I’m confident we’ll weather this storm. But it is a very fragile [supply] system. Without vincristine, we’d see a direct effect on a significant number of children.”

Breast Milk for Bodybuilders

24-year-old mother Rafaela Lamprou made $6,000 this week selling her overproduced breast milk. Rafaela overproduces and says that she initially gave away her milk to mothers struggling with breastfeeding. Her entrepreneurial transition occurred when she was approached by bodybuilding men who claimed that it was beneficial for increasing muscle mass. She then set up a Facebook page to handle orders.

The interest Rafaela garnered from the bodybuilding community is based on the belief that it is high in protein. However, human breast milk is about 87% water, 7% lactose, 3.8% fat, and only 1% protein. The 2.5 grams of protein in a cup of 172-calorie breast milk is not really significant for an adult male. Critics add that consumers don’t know if the mother they are buying from has been screened for infectious diseases that can be passed through breast milk.

Sadly, the bottom line is that if you have a passion for bodybuilding, you’re best to stick with whey protein and leave the breast milk to the babies.