Missed forecast by Roche leads to Boniva shortage

While drug shortages often are tied to manufacturing interruptions, Roche's ($RHHBY) injectable form of its osteoporosis drug Boniva will be in limited supply for some weeks because the company didn't expect to sell so much.

The FDA posted an announcement of the shortage Wednesday on its website. Christopher Vancheri, a spokesman for Roche's Genentech, which makes the injectable medication, could not explain to Reuters why forecasts fell short but says shipments of the single-use syringes should begin again in mid to late June. "Patient safety is of the utmost importance to Genentech, and we are working as fast as we can to address the temporary stock out of Boniva injection," he says.

The oral form of the drug, which is now being made in generic form, is unaffected by the shortage. A number of companies recently were given permission to make the generic pills, including Mylan Pharmaceuticals ($MYL) and Watson Pharmaceuticals ($WPI). But there are women who can't tolerate the pills and so they take the injections, which are given once every three months, Reuters reports. And Genentech is the only company that makes this version of the drug.

Drug shortages have actually eased some this year. The FDA has been pushing drugmakers to give it earlier warnings of factors that might lead to shortages, which has allowed the agency to sometimes find alternative supplies. But it remains a big issue. This week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, ASCO expressed its frustration over cancer drug shortages, urging Congress to create penalties for companies that fail to notify the FDA quickly about supply issues.

- read the Reuters story