The COVID-19 pandemic and its drain on key drugs used in acute care has put an enormous strain on hospitals in desperate need of medicines for their patients. In a move to shore up chronic shortages of needed meds, Novartis and nonprofit Civica Rx are teaming up to get ahead of shifting demand.
Novartis' Sandoz will ramp up supply of six generic injectables in high demand at hospitals as part of a deal with Civica to tackle chronic shortages in acute care settings, the Swiss drugmaker said Tuesday.
Sandoz aims to begin shipments later this year of a group of antibiotics, acid reducers, blood thinners, blood pressure regulators and medicines required in the operating room to 1,200 Civica member hospitals. The partners said their long-term contract will help Novartis stay ahead of potential shortages and better plan supply shipments.
"With Sandoz by our side, we will be able to stabilize the supply of more vital medicines used in hospitals daily and in times of crisis,” Civica CEO Martin VanTrieste said in a release.
Novartis and Civica's push to shore up hospital supply has added urgency as the downstream effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on over-the-counter medicines but also drugs used to treat critically ill patients.
In late May, Civica, a generics maker started by hospitals fed up with rising drug prices, joined a Trump administration-funded initiative to produce a domestic generic supply of COVID-19 drugs.
The U.S government floated a four-year, $354 million contract with a fledgling company, Phlow Corporation, to build a generic medicine and active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) plant in Richmond, Virginia, and supply COVID-19 treatments produced there.
The massive deal, awarded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), could be expanded up to 10 years and a total of $812 million, making it among the largest in BARDA's history.
To fulfill the government deal, Phlow teamed up with Civica and API supplier AMPAC, among others. CivicaRx and its partners will manufacture the finished dosage forms of essential medications, including vials and syringes.
The hospital shortages of key drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients—particularly sedatives for ventilated patients—reached such a crisis in early April that the FDA briefly freed compounding pharmacies to produce low-cost versions of those meds.
The FDA's order, meant to last as long as hospitals continue to encounter shortages of key drugs, applied to compounding pharmacies that aren't already sanctioned by the FDA as "outsourcing facilities."
To qualify, the copycat drugs must be listed on the FDA's shortages list, and hospitals must have exhausted all other options to access a commercial version of the drug.