Damaged Pfizer plant update: Warehouse bears brunt; hospital market share is 8%

The tornado that ripped through a Pfizer plant in Rocky Mount, N.C., mainly damaged its warehouse and missed the manufacturing side, the drugmaker said July 21.

The warehouse stored "raw materials, packaging supplies and finished medicines awaiting release by quality assurance," Pfizer said. The company is moving the supply to other facilities and is reviewing ruined items that require replacements.

Pfizer estimates the facility — one of the largest sterile injectable plants in the world — makes about 25 percent of the company's injectable medications used by hospitals. On July 21, Pfizer said its market share of hospital-used injectables is 8 percent.

The drugmaker is working to restore operations at the now-closed facility and is exploring alternative manufacturing locations. The FDA said it is aware of the storm damage and is working to assess "any potential impact to the drug supply," the agency's commissioner, Robert Califf, MD, said in a tweet

Much of the building was splintered and as many as 50,000 pallets of medicine were destroyed. All 3,200 employees at the site are safe and accounted for, Pfizer said.

"There are already 300 drugs that were in shortage before today. And many of those were sterile injectable drugs and like the ones manufactured at this facility," Tom Kraus, vice president of government relations at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, told The Hill in a July 20 report. "So we are already in a state of crisis with drug shortages and this, obviously, has the potential to contribute to that."

Pfizer has not released information on which products were made, stored and damaged at the site.

Only two or three manufacturers produce sterile injectable drugs, adding to concerns of a worsening shortage. 

"We do not have enough manufacturing capacity for these products, particularly sterile injectable drugs, and we don't have a diversified manufacturing capacity for them," Mr. Kraus told the Hill. "The fact that so much of these drugs are coming from one facility is a problem in and of itself." 

Before the storm, about 230 of Pfizer's products marketed to hospitals were already listed as "depleted" or in "limited supply," sources told The New York Times.

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