How companies are responding to cancer immunotherapy shortage

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The shortage of manufacturing slots for CAR-T cells, which has left myeloma patients dying on a wait list, came as a surprise to drugmakers and clinicians alike.

When the Food and Drug Administration approved the first myeloma CAR-T product from Bristol Myers Squibb in spring of 2021, there were already four other lymphoma and leukemia CAR-T therapies on the market. Those weren’t facing severe supply constraints so people hadn’t expected there to be issues supplying ide-cel, Bristol’s myeloma CAR-T, said Yi Lin, the director of the cell therapy program at the Mayo Clinic. But after the approval, the demand quickly overwhelmed Bristol’s ability to create CAR-T for myeloma — and supply chain issues during the pandemic made it more difficult to ramp up production.

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