First there was the good news: Provenge, the first-ever cancer vaccine was approved. And now there's the not-so-good news: Most prostate cancer patients won't have immediate access to the drug. As reported by Bloomberg today, the manufacturer will only be able to produce enough of the vaccine to treat about 2 percent of eligible patients this year:
It takes about a month to prepare each custom-made course of doses, Dendreon’s [Chief Operating Officer Hans] Bishop said. The company plans to make enough to accommodate 2,000 patients in the first year, falling short of the 100,000 patients with advanced tumors who may be eligible to receive it.
The piece discusses how the shortages, which Bishops said stemmed from uncertainty over whether the FDA would approve the drug, are affecting treatment centers:
“Until the capacity issues can be addressed, this will not be an effective agent,” said Chris Logothetis, head of prostate cancer research at MD Anderson in Houston, in a telephone interview. “The waiting list - even as we are telling patients we’re not starting a waiting list because we are inundated - is more than 50 patients. This is going to be a problem.”