J&J to release new Doxil batches

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is releasing new batches of Doxil, a cancer drug that has been in short supply recently as a result of problems at contract manufacturer Ben Venue Laboratories, a unit of Boehringer Ingelheim. The new supply could help roughly 1,000 cancer patients, a company spokeswoman said. Ben Venue manufactured the supply and was awaiting final quality testing when it closed its Bedford, OH plant, in November to address manufacturing problems.

Despite the good news for cancer patients, the company tells doctors there's no guarantee more product will be available soon. "Please be advised that this modest supply of DOXIL will not be sufficient to supply everyone on the wait list. We want to emphasize that this limited product availability does not foreshadow the potential for any additional supply of DOXIL in the immediate future, as we have no further information from BVL on when manufacturing will resume at its facility," Peter Callegari, VP of medical affairs at J&J's Janssen unit, said in a letter to healthcare providers on the Doxil site.

In a separate letter, Rob Bazemore, president of Janssen Products, advises that all new patient enrollments and additions to the wait list continue to be on hold. More than 2,000 patients have been on a waiting list, Dow Jones notes.

The Doxil shortage has proven worrisome to many, as the drug has no generic rival. Furthermore, doctors say there are few good alternatives to the drug, according to Dow Jones.

J&J previously had been working with Ben Venue to ramp up Doxil production as it hunted for a new manufacturer for the med. Meanwhile, Ben Venue has announced plans to transition out of the contract manufacturing business altogether.

- see more from Dow Jones
- read the letter from Callegari