Healthcare and drug companies are looking to join a market largely held by hospitals: injectable drugs, a $7 billion industry that often experiences shortages.
Drug mogul Becton Dickinson (BD), for example, plans on introducing 20-30 new injectable medicines to the US over the next few years, some of which have been in short supply. International drug companies are also seizing the market. Jordan-based Hikma Pharmaceuticals will launch 5-10 products in the next few years, also introducing a few of which have been scarce.
Companies like BD are attracted to this market because of the supply issue; and while sterilizing injectable drugs can prove difficult, the payoff is big: almost one billion vials are sold each year. However, companies might have to wait for the long-run, as producing sterile medicines can be expensive with low profits. Many companies left the market due to the cost, leaving some drugs to just one manufacturer. In addition, manufacturing problems, supply constraints and government investigation of manufacturing plants have pushed many drug firms to abandon facilities or slow down production.
What resulted was an even larger shortage in 2011: 183, as opposed to 23 five years earlier. According to the FDA, the shortages fell to 84 in 2012, partly because Pfizer began manufacturing limited cancer injectables and some plants, which were previously shut down, reopened.
Yet, in order to turn a profit, many companies are looking into raising prices by 10%. This would greatly affect hospitals and their drug buyers, who will most likely fight the increases. In order to cut costs and availability, drug companies should consider producing and selling drugs in multi-dose vials. Fluid Management Systems, Inc. has the technology to manage and monitor injectable drug inventories in multi-dose vials.
Conceived, Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan
April 10, 2013
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