Drugmakers faced manufacturing dilemma during Hurricane Florence: 3 things to know

Many drug companies questioned whether they should shutter operations at their drug plants in the Carolinas and Virginia during Hurricane Florence, which would put the region's drug supply at risk, according to STAT.

Here are three things to know:

1. GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis chose to shut down their plants in the area, while Pfizer and Merck scaled back production at several North Carolina facilities.

"Even a shutdown for a few days can affect supply across the country," Sharona Hoffman, PhD, professor of health law and bioethics at Cleveland-based Case Western Reserve University, told STAT. "It’s a big concern."

2. A spokesperson for Novo Nordisk, the world's largest insulin maker, told STAT the company kept its North Carolina plant open. Seqirus, a flu vaccine manufacturer, offered some of their employees the opportunity to work remotely. The company kept its essential employees on-site in North Carolina to keep operations active during the hurricane.

"What we do prevents disease and save lives," Jacob Anderson, vice president of operations at Seqirus, told STAT. "We wouldn’t have closed the site unless there was a risk so serious that we couldn’t mitigate it."

3. By Sept. 17, most of the plants reopened, dodging a nationwide drug shortage. About 30 companies that produce important drugs stayed open during Hurricane Florence, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a Sept. 16 tweet.

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