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Bill of the month: Hormone blocker sticker shock -- again -- as patients lose cheaper drug option

Sydney Lupkin, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

What competitor product shortage? Could that be Vantas?

Asked about this, Zoumas Lubeski said Coleman wasn’t referring to Vantas. Since Vantas isn’t approved to treat central precocious puberty, it can’t technically be considered a competitor to Supprelin. Coleman was referring to the rival product Lupron Depot-Ped, not an implant, but an injection made by AbbVie, Zoumas Lubeski said.

Taksali was skeptical.

“It’s all very curious, like, huh, you know, when this particular option went away and your profits went up nearly 80% from the more expensive drug,” he said.

Then, in September, Endo told the FDA it stopped making Vantas for good.

Zoumas Lubeski said that when Endo investigated its Vantas manufacturing problem, it wasn’t able to find “a suitable corrective action that resolves the issue.”

 

“As a result, and after analysis of the market for the availability of alternative therapies, we made the difficult decision to discontinue the supply of this product,” she said via email. “Endo is committed to maintaining the highest quality standards for all of its products.”

Taksali said he felt resigned to giving his daughter Supprelin even before the shortage turned into a discontinuation. Ultimately, he won’t pay much more out-of-pocket, but his insurance will pay the rest. And that could raise his business’s premiums.

The FDA cannot force Endo to keep making the drug or set a lower price for the remaining one. It doesn’t have the authority. That decision lies with Endo Pharmaceuticals. A drugmaker discontinuing a product isn’t anything new, said Erin Fox, who directs drug information and support services at University of Utah Health hospitals.

“The FDA has very little leverage because there is no requirement for any company to make any drug, no matter how lifesaving,” she said. “We have a capitalist society. We have a free market. And so any company can discontinue anything … at any time for any reason.”

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