Supply of the cancer drug Pluvicto should increase «significantly» in the second half of the year, drug maker Novartis saying on Tuesday amid a widespread shortage.
Pluvicto, a drug for advanced prostate cancer, began to have supply problems in February as demand increased. He Food and Drug Administration listed it as low in early March.
The Swiss drugmaker said in February that it had temporarily stopped accepting new orders, leaving some prostate cancer patients out of treatment options.
The drug is made in small batches and must be given to patients within five days, making it nearly impossible to store.
During a Tuesday call with investors, Novartis executives said the drug should become more widely available between late summer and early fall as the company ramps up production at a new facility.
On Friday, the company Announced that a manufacturing plant in Millburn, New Jersey, has received FDA approval to begin manufacturing the drug for commercial use in the U.S. Production will begin «in the coming weeks» and ramp up gradually, according to the company.
Novartis also plans to ask the FDA to allow Pluvicto to be made at another manufacturing site in Indianapolis, which could also help with supply, according to slides shared by the company on the earnings call. That site could open by the end of the year, according to the company.
The drug is currently manufactured for use in the US at a site in Ivrea, Italy.
«Taken together, those three sites obviously have a lot of production capacity for Pluvicto,» Novartis Chief Executive Vas Narasimhan said on the call.
Pluvicto is among a handful of cancer drugs currently in short supply in the US BCG, a drug for bladder cancer; and methotrexate and cisplatin, two common chemotherapy drugs, are also in short supply, according to the FDA. A fifth drug, fluorouracil, is also in short supply, according to the American Society of Health System Pharmacistsa group that tracks drug shortages across the country.
Novartis estimates that it could produce at least 250,000 doses of Pluvicto annually by 2024, according to slides shared by the company.