Immune Globulin Shortages Force Hospitals to Ration Treatments

A shortage of immune globulin (IG) is forcing hospitals to ration the drug and prioritize its use for patients who need it the most. Hospitals are suspending its use in patients with non-life-threatening conditions, potentially putting them at an increased risk for infections.

According to Michelle Vogel, vice president of patient advocacy and provider relations at CSI Pharmacy, the shortage has reached an acute status.

Several factors have contributed to this shortage, including increased demand for IG related to higher rates of diagnosis of diseases traditionally treated with IG, as well as new uses for the medicine. While manufacturers say they are increasing production, ongoing supply issues, such as delays in shipments, have emerged.

Takeda, a manufacturer of IG, explained that plasma-derived drugs like IG take between seven and 12 months to produce and supply to customers, making it difficult to quickly produce new products based on demand. It takes more than 1,000 plasma donations to produce a one-year supply for one patient, the company added.

Plasma collection in the U.S. continues to rise, said Amy Efantis, chief executive of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association. Some drug companies also operate collections centers that pay donors to provide plasma.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2019.