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Drug shortage continues

Published by Steve Coleman on August 23, 2011

Health Canada has pulled the plug on all but 17 essential drugs produced by a U.S. contract manufacturer

Unidentified problems with “injectable and inhalational sterile products” made by Ben Venue Laboratories Inc. (BVL) in Bedford, Ohio have led to a shortage of some commonly-used drugs.

The company is in the process of getting out of filling contracts for businesses like Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson to concentrate on its own generic products. The move has further compounded ongoing drug shortages.

Problems at the Ben Venue plant have contributed to a supply shortage of Johnson & Johnson's Doxil treatment for ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma, said the Wall Street Journal. Ben Venue said in July that manufacturing capacity problems were causing shortages for some products. Johnson & Johnson had to advise doctors not to start new patients on Doxil until the supply problems could be corrected.

Supply problems aren’t new, however. A December 2010 survey by the Canadian Pharmacists Association suggested shortages have become a serious problem for patients, doctors and druggists.

Raw material supplies, manufacturing problems and companies that stop making a product because it has become less profitable have been identified as the top reasons.

The list of Ben Venue-made products that Health Canada plans to continue letting into the country until the production problems are sorted out includes...

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