November 9, 2022

Supply chain expert warns that drug shortages will persist

By: Bridget Brown

Editor's Note

Vials of the chemotherapy drug fludarabine could be purchased at a whole sale price of $110 last year—today, it is being sold for a much higher price, Fierce Pharma November 1 reports. One company, Areva Pharmeceuticals, increased the price to $2,736, Stat News reported on October 27. This price jump can be attributed to supply chain issues that have triggered this and many other drug shortages; shortages which are not going away any time soon, warns Bindiya Vakil, supply chain expert and CEO of supply chain company Resilinc.

While shortages of drugs such as Adderall and amoxicillin have received media attention, Vakil notes that there are other serious shortages that have potential for worse consequences. The US Food and Drug Administration put out a warning of shortages of more than a dozen drug ingredients, two of which are included in Adderall, but also including bacteriostatic saline, which is necessary for IV injections, and compounds used in drugs for anesthesia, water retention, and calcium deficiencies.

The ingredient supply problems are so severe that Vakil expects the Adderall shortage, for example, to persist for up to another year. There is no easy way to fix supply chain issues in drug manufacturing and it is a long process to get FDA approval for a new site, he said.

Compared to other industries, biopharma has been slow to respond to supply chain issues,  falling behind on using sufficient supply chain mapping and monitoring technology. “The drug industry is not really taking a proactive approach to understanding their supply chain dependencies. And they continue to be surprised time and time again,” Vakil said, adding that demand and prices for these drugs will continue to go up.


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