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!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is great information, thanks

Anonymous said...

I too was scheduled for a BCG instillation yesterday and received a call from my Doc's office telling me of the shortage situation. Fortunately I am currently on the downside of my maintenance year, this was to be one of my last 3 before a 3 month break. My last cysto showed no indication of any remants anything.

Anonymous said...

This is a result of government price controls. Too few companies find it profitable to continue to manufacture certain medications and vaccinations. Then when something happens to the one or two companies that still manufacture a medicine (problems at facility, regulator citation, etc) there is no supply at all. Now it is not available at any price. Then rationing begins with the available supply. These problems will get worse with the implementation of Obamacare.

Anonymous said...

I have now had 2 cancer treatments eliminated (August 2014) due to this shortage - this is a disaster. Merck and the FDA have an urgent responsibility to solve such a critical shortage - there were 4 other people in the doctor's office awaiting treatment that were turned away. This mimics a 3rd world country - this is CANCER and not a common cold!

Anonymous said...

Agree with the previous comment about being like a third world country - and those were the exact words from my doctor today as well. I am getting Mitomycin instead for 3 maintenance treatments. The original 6 were BCG and I was so pleased to have something that was thought to be the most effective and with the fewest side effects.

Should we sign a petition somewhere? The doctor said this is the third medicine they have not been able to get this year. If this is due to more people getting it that didn't have access before I am happy about that, but now that we know there's a problem can we not put more pressure on the pharmaceutacal companies? My nurse said that the substitute treatment is more expensive.

Mike Nieders said...

I was to receive my first treatment of BCG in October of 2014. My bladder cancer is high risk and I am still waiting.