by Tom aka Rusty Rustbelt
Health Care: Supply Chain Meltdowns
Counterfeit vials of the cancer drug Avastin have been found in three states. The vials, sold directly to physician offices, lack the active ingredients to make the drug effective. Somewhat luckily, the packaging was so sloppy the vials were spotted, although some of the medication was likely used. We might not be so lucky next time.
The drug common Methotrexate, used to treat several kinds of cancers, is in short supply. Methotrexate is considered essential in battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adults and in children.
As drugs become generic the cost goes down, but generic drug makers are not especially adept at making injectable medications, being better at mass production of pills. The closure of just a few plants can cause a shortage, as we have now.
More than 250 meds have been on the shortage list in the last year or two, as the lower costs of production are offset by lower reimbursements leading to less capital investment and production.
The Johnson and Johnson Depuy subsidiary is in hot water with the FDA for joint replacements failing too early too often (15 years is the hoped for life of joint replacement surgeons, results vary by patient). Depuy recently received some bad publicity for selling the same joint replacements in Europe.
Meanwhile U.S. malpractice lawyers are having a field day, and a fake internet artificial joint registry disappeared when registrants were hustled by lawyers they had never heard of (the feds are working to start a legitimate registry).
Most of the medical supply chain is efficient and provides quality goods, but a few meltdowns can have horrendous impacts.