Since 2010, ovarian cancer patients have been missing an effective and palatable chemotherapy drug called Doxil. In 2010, FDA inspectors came upon contamination problems at the Ohio plant, and since then the drug has been in severe shortage. About 7000 patients a year have used this drug, but by November of 2010, the only factory producing Doxil was shut down completely.
Doxil is not the only in-demand drug to become unavailable. Over 250 other drugs, most of them injectables used in hospitals, have come under short supply as well. This causes major problems, including:
- Expensive substitutes resulting in increased health care costs
- Increased risk of medical errors and complications
- Time and money spent to train faculty to use replacement drugs
- Longer hospital stays due to substitute drugs
Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson finally released some backstock of the medicine after they passed testing. J&J is trying to address the issue more globally now by producing it in the re-opened sections of the plant and using another supplier for safety testing. The company is trying to get the FDA to approve this process.