Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Doxil Shortage Development

On the Doxil web page Rob Bazemore , the president of Janssen Products ( J&J is the parent company) , states;
"I am saddened to share news today that Ben Venue Laboratories, Inc. (BVL), our third-party supplier who manufactures DOXIL®, announced its temporary suspension of manufacturing and distribution of drug products. Click here to read a posting on the BVL website announcing this news and here to read our related official communication to healthcare providers.

This voluntary decision is a result of an internal BVL review, which indicated that routine preventive maintenance did not happen at a specified time for some manufacturing equipment. This required maintenance included steps to ensure that machinery meet all qualifications before being used again. BVL is halting production to conduct a site-wide assessment to determine the potential impact, if any, and will implement any corrective actions if needed.

This temporary suspension of manufacturing by BVL impacts the production and release of DOXIL®, which is currently in short supply and not available beyond product already allocated to patients in the DOXIL® C.A.R.E.S. Physician Access Program. We are not able to estimate timing when DOXIL® may return to the market as BVL has not provided a commitment on when its manufacturing operations will resume. In light of this situation, patients should speak with their physicians about alternate treatment options.

For the complete statement please see http://www.doxil.com/doxil-supply-shortage.
Doxil is a doxorubicin Hydrochloride encapsulated in liposomes for intravenous use. The manufacture of Doxil includes a fermentation process ( a streptomyces bacterium is used) and subsequent chemical conversion processes to reach the final drug stage. In Europe, Doxil is know as Caelyx. The patent on Doxil expired in 2009 but it has orphan drug exclusivity until May 2014 . Orphan Drug status is given to those drugs that are used to treat rare conditions with less than 200,000 patients using it per year. Yes, ovarian cancer is considered a rare condition with ~25,000 women diagnosed a year. That status protects J&J from generic drug competition and allows the company to recoup its development and marketing costs.

Prior to teaching I was a process chemical engineer for an over -the-counter product manufacturer. I understand the need for maintenance. I remember how long it took for the manufacturing plant to break apart the pipes , clean & sterilize them and restart. It is not an overnight procedure. It may take upwards of two weeks. Then the fermentation must begin again so that also adds time to the process. My hope is that J&J does not wait to find a new back-up contract manufacturer. In this economy there may be other manufacturers just waiting to fill the void. It will take them the same time to startup the process but then all the women who need it will have access to the drug. Or J&J can give up it's drug exclusivity and allow other manufacturers to produce the drug.

Please don't wait J&J, women's lives are at stake.

Every Day is a Blessing!

1 comment:

Servivorgirl said...

I literally felt my heart drop.