Rallying to meet the need

We understand how important it is to get oncology medicines to the people who need them, and providing those medicines is at the center of what we do.

January 1, 2019

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In 2012, Merck became the only source for the U.S. and many countries of an oncology medicine called TICE® BCG/OncoTICE® after other companies that made similar medicines stopped production. TICE® BCG/OncoTICE® is an older medicine that has been prescribed by oncologists for decades.

Today, we continue to be the only source of this medicine in many countries and due to increasing global demand, we are working to help minimize disruption to patient care and address this imbalance. When we face supply shortfalls, we do our very best to work with health authorities, patient advocates and health care professionals to allocate our medicines in a manner that takes into account the needs of patients across countries.

Addressing a pressing need

To help meet the surge in demand and ensure that cancer patients can continue to receive the medicine they need, the team at Merck’s manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina, which manufactures TICE® BCG/OncoTICE®, is going above and beyond.

When the other suppliers stopped production, the Durham team quickly responded by stretching the production processes and enabling production to the full extent of our manufacturing equipment capacity. The site increased production of TICE® BCG/OncoTICE® by more than 100% all while reducing the lead time for the production of a batch by nearly 40%.

Today, the Durham team continues its unwavering commitment to maximizing its production capacity, including by working through holidays and adverse weather events. The site has adopted an innovative strategy to implement equipment reliability and improvement projects while production continues concurrently. “Merck has invested in our operations and facility to increase the supply of this medicine,” shared Kacey Fetcho-Phillips, director of operations. “Our team is committed and dedicated to producing reliable supply of our products in both the short- and long-term for our patients.”

Getting from there to here

TICE® BCG/OncoTICE® is complex to produce. Each batch takes many months to make, 30 days of which is waiting for the growth of the bacteria used to make the medicine. Each batch also requires extensive quality testing, which takes an additional 45 days, before packaging and distribution.

Merck has taken considerable production capacity actions and also continues to keep health authorities, patient advocates and health care professionals informed about the availability of TICE® BCG/OncoTICE® so that we can ensure best patient care. Merck continues to remain focused and is committed to ensuring that we can provide TICE® BCG/OncoTICE® to our customers and patients as quickly and as reliably as we can.