Leveraging Data to Navigate the Cancer Drug Shortages: Mitigating the Cisplatin and Carboplatin Crisis

By: Auras Tanase - 03 August 2023

The first half of 2023 has witnessed significant supply chain shortages in various sectors. Particularly alarming are the shortages in fourteen crucial cancer drugs, primarily cisplatin and carboplatin. Such interruptions put the lives of over 100,000 cancer patients at risk. This article provides insights into the current state of this shortage and suggests potential strategies, underpinned by data-driven insights, to tackle this crisis.

Understanding the current drug shortage through data

To fully comprehend the ongoing supply chain crisis for cancer drugs, it’s crucial to employ a method rooted in data. A thorough examination of the supply chain, which incorporates data from both internal and external sources, uncovers a multifaceted scenario. According to an article from USA Today, the inexpensive nature of cisplatin and carboplatin, which are priced at $15 and $25 per vial respectively, as stated by Matt Christian, director of supply chain insights at the U.S. Pharmacopeia, does not motivate companies to establish solid backup plans in the event of supply chain disruptions. Moreover, production issues, such as the dependence on a single supplier in India and the absence of a contingency plan, have led to postponed deliveries and dwindling supplies, as reported by Bindiya Vakil, CEO of Resilinc, a company that provides global supply chain mapping and monitoring.

Developing networks with secondary suppliers

In the context of a severe drug shortage, diversifying sources of supply is a crucial step towards resilience. Alternative sourcing strategies, such as engaging secondary suppliers, can offer a lifeline in such times. This strategy, however, is challenged by the fact that most of the USA’s supply of cancer drugs comes from a single supplier in India, Intas, that recently halted some of their operations after an FDA inspection found a “cascade of failure” in the facility’s quality control unit late last year.

To overcome this, further investigation into untapped, alternative pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities is necessary. We’ve used Veridion’s Supplier Search API to uncover new manufacturers of cisplatin and carboplatin in India that are not dependent on Intas and are approved by the FDA.

This search resulted in 124 potential suppliers. You can visualize the insights of this search in the infographic above, and to understand all the 69 data points associated with each supplier, you can explore a sample dataset for this specific search scenario in the table below. 

Avoiding overemphasis on cost-cutting

In this crisis, the focus on cost-cutting may need to be shifted. While the low prices of cisplatin and carboplatin are advantageous for patients and healthcare providers, it results in a lack of incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop contingency plans and improve manufacturing processes.

Exploring untapped market opportunities

An exploration of untapped market opportunities could be beneficial. This might involve increasing domestic manufacturing or identifying other global manufacturers that could contribute to the production of cisplatin and carboplatin. Such initiatives could enhance the resilience of the supply chain for these essential drugs.

Key Takeaways

Though the causes of the cancer drug shortages are multifaceted and complex, potential solutions lie within our grasp. By understanding the supply chain through data, developing relationships with secondary suppliers, shifting the emphasis from cost-cutting, and exploring untapped opportunities, we can begin to address this crisis.

Proposed structural changes include implementing data-sharing requirements, providing incentives to protect the drug supply, increasing domestic manufacturing, and creating a stockpile of essential drugs. A “supply chain control tower” suggested by the U.S. Pharmacopeia could enhance the transparency and resilience of the supply chain.

The Role of Veridion in Addressing the Drug Shortage

Managing these challenges can be overwhelming, but Veridion’s data solutions can simplify the process. Our platform can provide insights on a wide range of suppliers, from product information to capabilities, thus aiding in the discovery of alternative suppliers and untapped market opportunities.

Contact us to discuss how Veridion’s data can bolster your approach to mitigating the current drug shortages.