Transitioning from making enough of a drug to treat patients in clinical trials to making enough of a drug to sell commercially can be tricky. Just ask Onyx Pharmaceuticals
Changes made to the process while the company was scaling up will delay the plan to submit the drug to the FDA for an accelerated approval until mid-2011 at the earliest; Onyx had said it would submit it before the end of this year. A six-month delay and the resulting six-month loss of revenue isn't really the end of the world, but investors are -- rightfully in my opinion -- worried about the manufacturing of carfilzomib.
At the worst, the FDA could be concerned that the drugs manufactured under different conditions are dissimilar enough that the clinical trials run with the old drug aren't relevant to the "new" drug. Reverting back to the smaller scale usually isn't an option, which leaves proving that they function the same way through a small comparator clinical trial, which could push the application back even further.
At this point, Onyx hasn't said the FDA will require clinical trials -- a lot will depend on the changes, which Onyx characterizes as "minor variations" -- but there's plenty of precedent for the FDA being sticklers.
When Amylin Pharmaceuticals
Finally, at the complete extreme, the FDA decided Genzyme's
Unfortunately, unlike clinical trial data that are published in peer review journals, manufacturing is a black box for drug company investors. Be careful out there, Fools.
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