Pfizer, FDA Working to Avoid Drug Shortages After Tornado

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July 24, 2023 – No immediate drug shortages are expected following the destruction of a Pfizer warehouse by a tornado in North Carolina last week.

The warehouse was completely destroyed, but the manufacturing portion of the facility in Rocky Mount, N.C., was spared, according to the news agency Reuters and a Pfizer news release.

The Rocky Mount facility is one of 10 Pfizer plants in the U.S. and makes approximately 8% of all sterile injectable medicines used by U.S. hospitals. The injectable medicines made there include anesthesia, painkillers, therapeutics, anti-infectives, and neuromuscular blockers, the company said. 

The damaged warehouse stored raw materials, packaging supplies, and finished medicines awaiting quality assurance review. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, DVM, PhD, said the drugmaker has about a 6-week supply of affected medicines and that it would be weeks before hospitals experience the impact, Reuters reported. 

Meanwhile, the company was working to assess damage to the site, which remained closed, while looking to move manufacturing elsewhere in the U.S. and internationally, the press release stated.

The FDA is working to minimize the risk of shortages by trying to source additional supplies and by asking other manufacturers to be prepared to increase production, if needed.

“While disclosure laws prevent the FDA from providing a complete list of products made at the facility, there is redundancy in the supply chain due to other manufacturers,” an FDA news release stated on Friday. “Our initial analysis has identified less than 10 drugs for which Pfizer’s North Carolina plant is the sole source for the U.S. market, however, a number of these are specific formulations for which there should be substitutes or for which many weeks’ worth of stock should be available in Pfizer’s other warehouses.”

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, which maintains a database of drug shortages, currently lists 247 drugs, which is near a 10-year high, Reuters reported.