Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Publicity But No Progress

A new friend of mine who also has ovarian cancer sent me a link to the following video of coverage earlier this week on CBS News of the drug shortage. In it, the woman featured in the CBS News spot I posted earlier is revisited. This time she has somehow been able to get Doxil, but only one dose and she reportedly does not know from month to month whether she will get any more.



Janssen updated its notice on September 23  about availability of Doxil, explaining that they expected to release limited amounts within the next six weeks but reading between the lines correctly this shortage will likely continue for several years. Janssen reiterates that the supplies will not be enough for those on the waiting list.  The Wall Street Journal reported on September 26, 2011 that 2500 people are still on the Doxil waiting list. I am one of those 2500.

The WSJ article also confirmed that Doxil is not a big seller for Johnson & Johnson (Janssen's parent), representing less than 1% of annual revenue.  It was heartening to see the emphasis in the CBS News report on the issue of profit in the decision making creating  these shortages.   I understand from Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) that GAO will issue a "definitive report" this fall about the causes.  Somehow I do not think profit will be their explanation.

Here are some other interesting facts reported by OCNA:
FACTS FROM THE HEARINGS
  • Of the 4 billion prescriptions filled in the United States in 2010, 3 billion were generic drugs
  • 54 percent of shortages are due to quality control issues
  • 21 percent of shortages are due to delays in manufacturing or capacity issues
  • The integrity or safety of drugs sold on the gray market cannot be assured
  • The average mark up of drugs on the gray market is 650 percent; one-quarter of drugs sold on the gray market are marked up 2000 percent
  • 99 percent of hospitals report experiencing one or more drug shortage in the first six months of 2011
  • 66 percent of hospitals report an oncology drug shortage
  • In an April 2011 survey, more than 90 percent of anesthesiologists reported at least one drug shortage at the time of the survey and 98 percent reported a shortage at some time during the past year
  • The shortages have cost hospitals $415 million in drug and labor costs

By the way, do you think CBS News read my post The Real Death Panels?  I find it very suspicious that they chose to show Nexium in their report after I featured it in my blog post. ROFLMAO.

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