Targin pain relief drug shortages leave cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers without options

This is a  bit overhyped.  I am myself on Targin to control the pain from a cracked rib.  And it does seem to help.  I am able to take it because I have a supply left over from last year

But is not irreplaceable. It is just an opiate plus something to combat the constipation that opioids cause.  And it is not so good at that. I have to take an apieriant as well

Thousands of cancer patients are being forced to spend their final days sitting in medical waiting rooms trying to source alternative pain relief because of a critical nationwide shortage of a major drug.

Targin is a slow-release oxycodone and naloxone combination often prescribed to cancer patients in the palliative stages and chronic pain sufferers to reduce severe pain.

But stocks have dwindled due to issues with shipping lines and flight availability.

"These patients don't want to spend what limited time they have left at the hospital on the phone to doctors, in waiting rooms, trying to get prescriptions," north Queensland pharmacist Cate Whalen said.

"They want to be spending those last days with their families and those that love them."

Finding alternatives

Dr Abhishek Joshi is a medical oncologist at Townsville ICON Cancer Care and Townsville University Hospital.

He said his clinic saw about 1,000 new patients each year and the shortage would affect about half of them.

"Switching a pain drug which a patient has been using for a long time to a newer alternative and finding a drug of an equivalent dose is not an easy task. That process can take time," he said.

"Patients might now have to undergo a period ranging from days to weeks in which their pain levels might actually fluctuate and start affecting their lifestyle."

Dr Joshi said it was the first time he had seen a shortage of Targin.

"I know regional towns are not the preference sites where these stocks are channelled, mostly bigger cities and metros are much more advantaged," he said.

"So, we have to really fight hard to make sure our patients are getting the stock. There is no sort of specific timeline as to when these shortages will go away."

Unlike many other drugs on the market, Targin does not have a suitable substitute.


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