IVIG shortage continues

CDC responds, emergency supply planned

Shortly after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued a statement urging hospitals to review their use of intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) in the wake of a national shortage dating to 1997, the six U.S. manufacturers of IVIG have agreed to set aside 5,000 g monthly that can be tapped under emergency conditions.

The CDC has recommended that "clinicians review their IVIG use to ensure consistency with current recommendations, and pharmacists should facilitate appropriate use by assisting in triage of available IVIG to high-priority patients."

Last year, the IVIG supply was estimated at about 30% below demand, based largely on a review of manufacturing standards by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which led the agency to temporarily halt some production. That crisis has ended, but health care officials now are saying that while production is catching up, the non-approved and ancillary uses of the product have kept demand ahead of supply. The six U.S. makers of IVIG are Alpha Therapeutic, the American Red Cross, Baxter, Bayer, Centeon, and Novartis.

The CDC estimates that 25,000 people in the United States suffer from primary immunodeficiencies that call for ongoing use of IVIG. The emergency program is selling the product for $60 to $65 per gram.

[For additional information on IVIG guidelines and emergency supply networks, call the CDC at (404) 639-3311.]