Preventing shortages of biologic medicines

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2014 Mar;7(2):151-9. doi: 10.1586/17512433.2014.874281. Epub 2014 Jan 6.


Shortages of small-molecule injectable drugs have captured the attention of patients, healthcare providers, regulators and policy makers in recent years. While these shortages have several causes, non-compliance with current good manufacturing practice and subsequent shutdowns of manufacturing facilities have played a central role. Sterile injectable drugs are particularly susceptible to manufacturing quality disruptions because of their sensitivity to contamination. Biologics are subject to the same fill-finish contamination risk as sterile injectables, but their active ingredients are also sensitive to subtle changes in the manufacturing process and to storage and handling of their final dosage forms. Originator biologics will lose market exclusivity in the years ahead as patents expire and as competitors develop biosimilar products. The availability of therapeutic alternatives may provide opportunities to reduce costs and increase patient access, but this should not come at the expense of critical investments in the manufacturing of these complex and sensitive products.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products / administration & dosage
  • Biological Products / standards
  • Biological Products / supply & distribution*
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals / administration & dosage
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals / standards
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals / supply & distribution*
  • Drug Contamination
  • Drug Industry / standards*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Sterilization


  • Biological Products
  • Biosimilar Pharmaceuticals