‘People Will Die’: Drug Shortages Rock Medical Industry
Laurel Duggan on March 21, 2023
The U.S. is experiencing its worst drug shortage in 10 years due to manufacturing issues and plant closures, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists told Axios.
The shortage has impacted several drugs that are used to treat cancer, according to Axios. Issues caused by manufacturing and quality control problems are exacerbated by a lack of alternative options for acquiring some of these drugs, industry experts told the outlet.
Pluvicto, a drug used to extend the lives of patients with prostate cancer, is already in short supply and will not be replenished for several months as its manufacturers attempt to ramp up production, according to The Wall Street Journal. Novartis, the drug’s manufacturer, is prioritizing patients who have already started the regimen and is not taking new patients.
“People will die from this shortage, for sure,” Jonathan McConathy, director of the division of molecular imaging and therapeutics at the University of Alabama, told the WSJ.
An FDA spokesman told the outlet it’s working with drug manufacturers to try to meet demand for various drugs, and a pharmacy director said it’s usually possible to get patients what they need by compounding or repackaging drugs into the appropriate dosage, but that this creates excess work and adds additional costs for hospitals.
Methotrexate, a chemotherapy drug taken by injection, is in short supply following its producer shutting down production due to bankruptcy, according to Axios. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, a bladder cancer drug, is being rationed and in some cases is not available at all.
“This is a terrible crisis. We should be doing everything we can to give every single one of these patients the best chance of survival,” Laura Bray, a board member of the End Drug Shortages Alliance, told CNN.
“Those are absolutely critical. They need to be made on very specialized manufacturing lines due to the nature of the manufacturing,” Valerie Jensen, associate director of the FDA’s Drug Shortage Staff, told Axios.
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