Demand for Provenge overwhelming Dendreon production

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Provenge, Dendreon's groundbreaking prostate cancer vaccine, in late April, the company announced that it would only be able to supply 2,000 patients over the following 12 months.

As a result, prostate cancer patients are already facing rationing of the treatment as well as delays of a year or more, reports. Hospital waiting lists have already greatly surpassed the company's ability to produce the vaccine.

Until manufacturing capacity increases, which is expected to happen in mid-2011, Dendreon is only able to produce enough Provenge to treat about two percent of eligible patients.

Currently, reports, Dendreon is producing initial doses of Provenge in a single New Jersey Plant, which is expected to reach full capacity in early 2011. Full capacity will allow the company to quadruple its available vaccine, Hans Bishop, Dendreon's COO, told Bloomberg.

Facilities in Atlanta and Los Angeles, in addition to the New Jersey plant, are expected to be running at full capacity by the end of 2011.

Provenge is produced from a patient's own white blood cells, which are exposed to a protein found in most prostate cancers. That protein has been linked to an immune-stimulating substance and aids in training the patient's immune system to attack cancer. Patient's are then given their own blood intravenously in a three-dose schedule in two week intervals.