Supplies of bladder cancer drug are dwindling

Supplies of BCG, a critical immunotherapy drug that treats bladder cancer, are dwindling, according to a STAT news report.

The shortage of the medication is being felt across the nation, as hospitals find it harder to obtain it. Smaller clinics already have run out of the drug, while larger hospitals like New York City-based Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, have changed their policies on administering the drug to prioritize newly diagnosed patients.

"This BCG shortage is a huge deal," said Robert Abouassaly, MD, a urologist at Cleveland Clinic. "We don't have any alternatives that are as effective for these patients."

BCG is a biologic drug that has been used for decades and is remarkably effective against bladder cancers, but the fact that the drug has only one manufacturer and isn't very profitable are two big reasons there's a shortage, according to the report.

At a cost of just $100 to $200 per dose, drug companies are not rushing to make BCG. Merck is its only manufacturer in the U.S. and European markets.

Merck said it is already working at capacity to produce more of the drug.

Read the full report here.


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