Boehringer unit to exit contract manufacturing

A Boehringer Ingeheim drug plant is exiting the contract manufacturing business. Ben Venue Laboratories, which makes injectable and inhaled drugs, plans to bail out of contract work over the next several years, spokesman Jason Kurtz told Dow Jones. The company says it's seeking to simplify its business and focus on its generics operations.

But the move comes during some regulatory problems that will keep a few Ben Venue-made drugs from entering Canada--and amid supply woes that touched off shortages of drugs the plant turned out for Big Pharma. Health Canada last week put Ben Venue products under an import ban after inspectors identified problems at a Cleveland-area plant. 

The Canadian regulator has restricted Ben Venue to import only 17 drugs for serious health problems with no alternate treatments, Dow Jones says, including Pfizer's ($PFE) Torisel for kidney cancer and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) multiple myeloma drug Velcade. European regulators have also limited Ben Venue's imports.

What's more, problems at the Cleveland plant have touched off a shortage of J&J's Doxil drug, used to treat ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma. J&J had to ask doctors not to begin patients on Doxil until the supply problems are cleared up. A J&J spokeswoman said the company will move Doxil to another contract manufacturer. Pfizer, too, is planning to gain approval for another manufacturer to supply a Torisel ingredient.

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