This seems like the type of headline you’d expect to see in a 3rd world country not the US. But, we’ve been talking about drug shortages for years, and while it may be better in a few areas, cancer isn’t one of them.
I was recently reminded of this in an AJMC article which was discussed at ASCO and had this data point about 94% of oncologists and hematologists from a University of Pennsylvania study.
Looking back a few years, I think IMS did one of the best studies on this topic. Here’s a few of the items they highlight from the study (with links to their charts).
- The drug shortages problem is highly concentrated with more than 80% of the products generics and 80% injectables, representing a small part of the overall pharmaceuticals market.
- A number of critical drugs on the shortages list are used to treat cancer, infection, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system conditions and pain.
- A large number of suppliers are involved, but most drugs on the shortages list have only one or two sources of supply.
- Total supply volume for many products on the shortages list has been stable or growing, but significant volatility exists.
- Supply volume for a group of 75 products has fallen substantially.
- Some states are experiencing the drug shortages more acutely than others.
It can be a little mind-boggling.
- Is it an issue of planning and forecasting demand?
- Is it an economic issue of not enough profit in these drugs?
- Is it an issue of quality where these get shut down due to manufacturing issues?
- Is it a structural issue of too few suppliers?
- Is it a raw materials issue?