Akorn: From financial troubles to a shutdown and intensifying drug shortages

It has been about a month since a U.S. drugmaker closed all operations, and since then, at least 14 drugs have gone into shortage and four are discontinued. 

The timeline of what happened: 

1971: Akorn Operating Co. was founded as a generic and specialty drug company. 

April 2018: Fresenius Kabi, a Germany-based drugmaker, terminated a $4.75 billion merger agreement with Akorn because of the latter's "breaches" of "regulatory compliance," according to court documents. In October 2018, a Delaware court ruled in Fresenius' favor and said it "validly terminated" the agreement because of Akorn's compliance issues.

January 2019, June 2019: The FDA sent Akorn, based in Gurnee, Ill., warning letters about manufacturing violations at two of its plants.

May 2020: Akorn filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the company listed between $1 billion and $10 billion in debt and assets in its bankruptcy petition. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware then approved existing lenders to buy the business, allowing Akorn to escape bankruptcy. 

April 2022: It settled for $7.9 million in a case that accused Akorn of seeking reimbursement for three generics not eligible for Medicare coverage. 

December 2022: Moody's listed Akorn as one of 34 healthcare companies at risk of default in 2023 because of excessive debt levels and weak operating performance. 

February 2023: The company laid off all its workers and closed all manufacturing sites Feb. 23.

March 2023: Hospitals began reporting a strained supply of a form of liquid albuterol, which is used in a device to help patients breathe. Nephron Pharmaceuticals told Becker's it was manufacturing its form of liquid albuterol "as fast as possible," and the FDA acknowledged the supply issue. Illinois said it will investigate whether Akorn complied with federal labor laws before it laid off hundreds. 

April 2023: Four drugs made by Akorn were discontinued because the company was responsible for 100 percent of the nation's supply of these products, and 14 drugs are now in worsened shortages.

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