Melphalan (Alkeran®), a chemotherapy drug commonly used in myeloma, was not available in several European countries towards the end of 2016. Myeloma Patients Europe (MPE) became aware of the situation following reports from our members that it was impacting negatively on myeloma patients in their countries. We conducted a survey to explore the issue further, the results of which you can see here.
To investigate the facts and help resolve the issue, MPE has regularly been in touch with national and European medicines regulators, the European Commission, as well as other stakeholder groups such as healthcare professionals, pharmacists and the manufacturer Aspen. We found that the melphalan shortages were largely caused by a manufacturing issue at the production plant resulting in supply issues. We advocated for an immediate solution to this problem for myeloma patients across Europe.
We have subsequently been advised that the supply chain is now working effectively and that there should be no further issues with shortages of melphalan. Whilst this is positive news, we have concerns that this may not be the situation within all individual countries. This is because the supply of melphalan may also be impacted on by national factors, such as local purchasing of medicines and pricing policies.
Our other concern is that the melphalan shortage started after Aspen was fined in Italy for trying to increase the price of melphalan and other cancer drugs. The European Commission is now investigating Aspen over concerns of excessive pricing policies and to understand whether Aspen has abused a dominant market position. MPE is following the case as it progresses to understand the impact on our membership.
Is the melphalan supply working in your country?
Given the issues we outline above, MPE is keen to know from you if there are any remaining challenges accessing melphalan in your country. To help us, please complete the following three question survey or email MPE Policy and Public Affairs Manager Kate Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, MPE will continue to engage with relevant contacts to further understand the situation and to work on collective action at the EU level to prevent these problems from happening again.