Pfizer 2011 Annual Review | Pfizer: the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company

Meeting Drug Shortages

Drug shortages—particularly involving generic injectables, cancer agents and anesthetics—are occurring with increasing frequency in the U.S. as other companies cut costs and rely on older manufacturing plants. The FDA reports that U.S. prescription drug shortages more than doubled from 2005 to 2009 and reached an historic high in 2010, with 178. Of these, 132 were sterile injectable drugs, particularly older cancer agents and surgical anesthetics.

Integrated solutions are needed to solve the problem of drug shortages. In the meantime, Pfizer has stepped up production and is applying its global reach and supply capabilities to deliver some critical medicines and help alleviate shortages.

  • Pfizer stepped in to supply Solu-Medrol, an anti-inflammatory steroid, and Flagyl, an antibacterial, to patients when other suppliers had manufacturing disruptions.
  • From January to August 2011, Pfizer met all demand requirements for Camptosar, which is used to treat colon and rectal cancers, after a competitor recalled large batches of product due to contamination.
  • Pfizer is currently managing and supporting all requests for doxorubicin hydrochloride, an oncology injectable, after the FDA approved the product's reintroduction in March 2011, following severe market shortages.

Generic cancer and anesthetic injectables often are not simple to produce, due to the specialized equipment and controlled temperatures they require, as well as the complexity of their manufacturing processes. The ability of Pfizer's Established Products Business Unit and Pfizer Global Supply to supply these medicines is a testament to our capabilities, as well as to our customer and patient focus. That said, we want all manufacturers and purchasers of these medicines, as well as regulators, to join us in finding longer-term solutions to this critical issue.