U.S. drug shortages frustrate doctors, patients - (MarketWatch via NewsPoints Desk)

  • In March, Merck & Co. sent a letter to physician practices and hospitals saying it expects shipping delays of its BCG vaccine to persist into early 2016, as reported MarketWatch Monday.
  • Along with the US, the BCG shortage has hit other countries including the UK and Canada.
  • "Here it's being rationed," said Wassim Kassouf, a urologist at McGill University Health Center, Montreal, adding "we've decreased dosing."
  • An FDA spokesman said the agency explored whether manufacturers of foreign versions of BCG could fill the US gap, but found they were not able to in the short term.
  • The BCG shortage followed a 2012 mold infestation that stopped production for more than two years at a factory in Toronto owned by Sanofi, while the drug's only other US manufacturer, Merck, has recently suffered production delays of its own.
  • The number of new drug shortages fell to 44 last year, from a peak of 251 in 2011, with the FDA noting that it prevented 101 shortages in 2014 by working closely with manufacturers following notifications of potential shortages.

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