News FLASH - There is a BCG Shortage! - August 22, 2014

UPDATE 30 January 2015 - BCG still not available in some areas.  Others report being able to get it or doctors have a supply on hand.  Will update when I hear supply is restored...

Original Post: I got a note today from Judy L. asking me if I had heard about a shortage of BCG, "I was supposed to get BCG today - 1st maintenance & I am being told there is no more...anywhere???"  To be sure, I was NOT aware of anything like that.  My excuse is probably reasonable, since I had my last round of maintenance treatments in March and I won't have my next one until 2016.  A few pokes around Google reveal that Judy is correct.  At the current time there IS a shortage of BCG for bladder cancer treatments.  There are only two manufacturers of BCG, and here is what they are saying as of now:

Sanofi Pasteur has TheraCys 81 mg vials for intravesical injection on back order and the company estimates a release date in second quarter of 2015.  (Sanofi Pasteur personal communications and website as of July 23, 2014.)

Merck has Tice BCG 50 mg vials for intravesical injection on back order and the company estimates a release date of October 2014. Orders must be placed with wholesaler and product is available by drop shipment only. (Merck personal communications as of August 7 and 15, 2014.)

There was a similar shortage in 2012, and things resumed to meet normal demand within 6 months.  Hopefully the same will happen now.  For those of you struggling with whether to BCG or not to BCG, that decision has been made for you in the short term.  More details at THIS LINK.

There may be supplies on the shelf in pharmacies around the world, but these will be isolated and quickly depleted.  This situation should not be seen as problematic, since BCG schedules are really not that time-dependent.  Your body really does not react differently when the intervals are 1 month or 3 months, or 6 months.  Hopefully urgent demand will be met by the end of this year, and all will be normal again early in 2015.  

In the meantime, enjoy your temporary break from BCG misery!