A new Lehi-based pharmaceutical company that has pledged to reduce prices and prevent shortages of critically important hospital drugs announced plans this week to manufacture its first two products.
Representatives of Civica Rx said the first drugs in development are two antibiotics used to treat a variety of conditions, including sepsis and drug-resistant staph infections.
“These are critical, essential medications that we use in the hospital space. Antibiotics are one of the areas that have been cyclically on and off shortage, that we really do need access to,” said Heather Wall, chief commercial officer at Civica Rx.
Civica Rx was formed last year in partnership with Intermountain Healthcare. The not-for-profit manufacturing company is taking the unique approach of developing generic drugs for a pool of about 850 hospitals that have so far signed up as partners, according to Wall. She said their partners represent around 30% of the hospital beds in the United States. Hospitals must contract with Civica to buy into their drug program. They plan to announce a total of 14 drugs that they will manufacture by the end of 2019.
Civica representatives said they plan to stabilize drug markets by setting up long-term contracts with their partner hospitals and providing specific amounts of drugs those providers need in order to avoid creating surpluses or shortages in the market.
Civica officials selected two antibiotics, vancomycin and daptomycin, as their first products because they’re some of the initial drugs used when treating serious infections, said Erin Fox, a pharmacist and senior director for drug information at University of Utah Health, who is also an unpaid member of Civica’s advisory board.
“These are needed for patients who are critically ill. And really, they’re life saving products,” Fox said.
Civica has already begun manufacturing the antibiotics at a Danish company. While vancomycin and daptomycin are not among drugs that have seen the biggest price spikes in America in recent years, they have been in occasional short supply, according to Fox. She says their critical importance in hospitals is what put them on Civica’s list.
“When you need one of these products, you really need to have it on hand,” she said.
The first two antibiotics that Civica will manufacture are currently being made at a facility of Xellia Pharmaceuticals in Denmark.