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Tornado damage to a Pfizer drug-making plant in North Carolina is unlikely to trigger drug shortages across the country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.
"We do not expect there to be any immediate significant impacts on supply, given the products are currently at hospitals and in the distribution system," FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in an agency news release posted 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," Califf explained.
"Notably, while Pfizer has one third of the total sterile injectable drug market for hospitals in the U.S., this facility only makes 25% of Pfizer's total product for this market – not the entire market," Califf added. "This means 8% of U.S. consumption is supplied by this site."
Meanwhile, Pfizer officials said the company is working to repair the damage and mitigate any shortage of drugs made at the facility.
"Clearly nature is strong. So, too, is ingenuity and the human spirit. A great deal of work needs to be done, but I assure everyone, most importantly the people of the Rocky Mount community, that we will put Pfizer's full power behind this effort," Pfizer Chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, said in a company statement. "We will work in lockstep with our partners and local authorities to restore and rebuild the site and the community."
The FDA said it cannot release any information about the specific drugs made or stored at the plant because of disclosure laws.
The Pfizer plant is closed as the damage is assessed. Most of the damage was caused to the warehouse, which stores raw materials, packaging supplies and finished medicines, the company said. Pfizer is exploring alternative manufacturing locations, and there does not appear to be any major damage to the medicine production areas, the company added.
For more on drug shortages, head to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
SOURCES: Pfizer Inc., news release, July 21, 2023; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, July 21, 2023
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