J&J is warning doctors that the demand for the chemotherapy drug Doxil will likely not be met for months to come, even with a limited supply of the drug recently becoming available.
In July, the company sent a letter to doctors urging them not to start patients on Doxil due to a contract manufacturer experiencing production delays. A specialty manufacturer was recently contracted to fulfill the demand, but the supply will most likely fluctuate until the company finds a new manufacturer for the drug. J&J had previously said that the third-party manufacturer for Doxil would be transitioning away from contract manufacturing services over the next several years, and this is what necessitated the company’s search for a new third-party manufacturer.
“[W]e do not anticipate that this intermittent supply will be sufficient to allocate product to all patients on the wait list,” J&J stated in a letter posted on Doxil’s Website. “We understand the impact this situation may cause and encourage you to discuss alternative treatment options with your patients, as you deem appropriate.”
Doxil is used to treat a variety of cancers, including ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma, and AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, and by July sales had reached about $500 million worldwide. The drug does not have a generic equivalent, so physicians considering prescribing Doxil would need to prescribe another drug as a treatment option.
The letter went on to state that the company has “identified a potential alternative supplier and the completion of our transition to this new manufacturer would occur over an extended period of time, during which our current manufacturer has committed that critically necessary products, such as Doxil, will be given the highest priority.”
An Associated Press review recently found that 15 deaths in the past 15 months that occurred in hospitals were due to a lack of drug availability or errors in dosing.