A shortage of a versatile medicine used to treat immune disorders and other diseases has forced U.S. hospitals and infusion clinics to suspend treatment for many patients.
The medicine, immune globulin, contains antibodies harvested from plasma, a component of blood. The injected product helps people with compromised immune systems fight off infections, and treats certain muscle and nerve disorders. The drug’s shortage increases the risk of infection for patients and the amount of pain they are suffering, doctors say.
Recently, many hospitals and infusion clinics have received less immune globulin, or IG, than they need. Some have started to ration it, prioritizing it for patients who need it to stay alive and canceling infusions for patients deemed to have non-life-threatening conditions. The shortage has gotten to an acute status, said Michelle Vogel, vice president of patient advocacy and provider relations at CSI Pharmacy, a specialty pharmacy.
IG manufacturers, including Takeda Pharmaceuticals Co. and CSL Ltd., say there has been increased demand for IG. They cite higher rates of diagnosis of conditions that IG has long treated, plus new uses for the drug. The global market for these drugs was $11 billion in 2018, projected to rise to $17 billion in 2023, according to a recent Takeda presentation to investors.
An expanded version of this story appears on WSJ.com