So yesterday while I was researching and writing about the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia buying up a sport, I came across an article about the extreme shortage of cancer fighting drugs here in the good old USA.
Now we all know our drug companies are money grubbing bastards who make plenty of opioids but have a real problem supplying sufficient chemo-therapy drugs.
Fourteen cancer drugs have been in shortage in recent months, “mostly because of supply chain interruptions”. Those in shortest supply include cisplatin and carboplatin, platinum-based drugs used to treat gynecologic, breast, testicular, bladder, head and neck and non-small-cell lung cancers.
By last week, facilities in more than 40 states, including some major medical centers, reported that they were running short of at least one key cancer medication. “We’re at a critical juncture.” “If this crisis worsens, every hospital in the United States is going to be impacted.”
“Doctors often can give patients a different drug if one is in short supply. But cisplatin, which has been limited since February, is often used as a substitute for carboplatin, and vice versa ‒ so limited access to both creates problems.”
Patients may now get the lowest recommended dose and wait the maximum interval until the next round of chemo infusion. even when the doctor would prefer to throw more at the tumor. And though using the minimum should be enough for most people it may not necessarily be sufficient for all.
On Thursday last, a cancer treatment center in Florida and another in Tennessee said that they were about to start rationing care.
Now folks, this is the United States of America, the richest country in history. And while we are the biggest consumers on the planet, apparantly we no longer make anything here. “Drug shortages have been a problem in the United States for at least a decade, and the shortages were exacerbated during the pandemic, said Bindiya Vakil, CEO of Resilinc, which provides global supply chain mapping and monitoring.”
Although cisplatin and carboplatin (the drugs in shortest supply) are manufactured by five companies, all rely on a single supplier in India that was shuttered over the winter for “safety reasons.”
The irony is that these essential platinum-based drugs are in short supply in large part because they’re so inexpensive.
Cisplatin costs $15 a vial and carboplatin $25, said Matt Christian, director of supply chain insights at the U.S. Pharmacopeia, a nonprofit that sets standards for the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
Now you know why our drug companies are more interested in opioids and not cisplatin.
Because companies stand to make so little from these medications, they have little incentive to create backup plans in case raw material suppliers or manufacturers run into trouble, Christian said. “It’s hard to incentivize redundancy if the price is $15 a vial.”
I can see it in the Board Room now. “Well we’ll have to let some of those cancer patients die.”
Manufacturers have no incentive to improve their process or product safety.
Plus, with such a small profit margin and because companies don’t want to reveal their competitive advantages, production is a closely guarded secret.
That means the American medical system doesn’t know when a factory is shut down in India or a raw material shortage affects the drug supply, so hospitals can’t plan ahead or encourage other drug companies to pick up the slack.
Drug companies are generally scum.
“Structural changes are needed. Congress should add regulations to require data-sharing, offer incentives to protect the drug supply, manufacture more medications in the U.S., and create a stockpile of essential drugs.”
Don’t hold your breath.
But fear not! The FDA is addressing the problem!
“Amid an ongoing cancer drug shortage, the United States Food and Drug Administration has been working with Chinese drugmaker Qilu Pharmaceutical Co Ltd to import the oncological medication cisplatin.
This is the first time that a Chinese pharmaceutical enterprise has won the right to export drugs available in the Chinese market to address medicinal shortfalls in the US.
The FDA has authorized the temporary importation of cisplatin from China in an effort to ease an acute shortage of cancer drugs in the US, according to an update posted to the agency’s website.
Qilu said that it “has initiated temporary export of cisplatin injections with vial and carton labels in Chinese into the US market. The cisplatin injections from Qilu are marketed and manufactured in China and are not FDA-approved”, according to the FDA statement.
Qilu said in a statement on its official WeChat account that it received an urgent email from the FDA in March, calling for cisplatin supply amid US drug shortages. In a short period of time, the company went through material preparation and translation, and proposal application. Soon after, the FDA launched a quick approval process. On May 23, it approved the temporary importation of cisplatin from China. A week later, truckloads of cisplatin were shipped to the US.
Despite some US politicians advocating decoupling, the temporary US imports of the unapproved Chinese drug again underline the strong economic and trade ties between the two countries, which is underpinned by China’s resilient industrial and supply chains, according to Chen Jia, an independent researcher on international strategy.
“It is not the first time and will not be the last time for the US to resort to supplies from China to ease its supply and demand imbalances in the domestic market for certain goods, and China has always been acting out of principle, humanitarianism and free trade to not distort the trading or reap excessive profits,” Chen said.
“The US is touting so-called de-risking while at the same time strengthening purchases of Chinese goods, which ironically contradicts its so-called decoupling attempts. The US should abandon the decoupling mindset to show respect for time-tested free trade principles, and put US people’s interests, instead of political interests, in a core place of its state strategies,” he added.”
from the China Daily – June 7.
I guess the FDA solved the problem. Strange tnhat the Commies have enough on had to export to America.