Story 34 Paclitaxel

A pharmacist in a cancer treatment centre reports that his hospital’s stock of cancer chemotherapy drug, paclitaxel, produced by the Canadian firm Biolyse, has run out. Soon an order will be placed with the American firm, Hospira.

The Hospira price for a treatment is $4000 — whereas the Biolyse price is $50.
The increased, unexpected, annual cost to his institution will be over $2M.

Health Canada inspectors revoked the licence of  Biolyse because of publicly unspecified safety violations,  and it had to stop production.

The pharmacist asks the following questions, which we cannot answer:

1. If safety had really been violated, why were pharmacies allowed to use up the remaining stock presumably made under the same “unacceptable” conditions?

2. Why is the American firm’s price for this drug 80 [EIGHTY!] times that of the Canadian company?

3. What are the real costs of manufacturing this drug?