Lake Forest-based Hospira Inc.also was given permission to expedite ingredients from its overseas factories and suppliers to ramp up production of a preservative-free version of methotrexate, a drug used to treat the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, and other cancers.
Preservatives in the drug can cause problems for children and for those getting high doses via injections into spinal-cord fluid as part of their cancer treatment. Adequate methotrexate supplies have been a sporadic problem since about 2008.
"I'm thrilled to relay that, 24 hours ago, we began directly shipping 31,000 vials of new product — enough to address more than a month's worth of demand — and it is being received in hundreds of our nation's hospitals and treatment centers today," Hospira Chief Executive F. Michael Ball said at a news conference in suburban Washington.
By mid-March, Hospira plans to release an additional 89,000 units of the medication "not only to meet the full market demand, but also to begin establishing safety stock to ensure patients and families never have to face this type of fear again," Ball said.