Pfizer warns of potential drug shortages following tornado damage at N.C. plant


Pfizer's production and storage plant in Rocky Mount, N.C. was damaged by a tornado, potentially causing disruptions in the supply of dozens of drug products to hospitals. In a letter to customer hospitals, Pfizer stated that the tornado damaged the site's warehouse, which stores finished medicines. Around 65 products, including those containing lidocaine and morphine, could experience "continued or new supply disruptions in the near-term." However, the coronavirus vaccine is not produced at this facility. The United States is already facing challenges in obtaining sufficient supplies of antibiotics, cardiac medication, and chemotherapy drugs. At the end of last year, there were nearly 300 medication shortages, a 30% increase from 2021. Some of the products that Pfizer mentioned as potentially affected are already in short supply in the country. The American Society of Hospital Pharmacists maintains a list of these products, which include those containing lidocaine, morphine, and fentanyl. Pfizer identified the products that could be in short supply by assessing its market share and inventory levels. The Rocky Mount plant produces almost 8% of all sterile injectable drugs used in American hospitals, including anesthesia, therapeutics, and neuromuscular blockers. However, the tornado did not cause significant damage to the production area. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it does not anticipate any immediate significant impacts on supply due to the damage to the plant. Commissioner Robert M. Califf mentioned that there should be substitutes or several weeks' worth of stock in Pfizer's other warehouses for many of the affected products. Additionally, other drugmakers also produce some of these products. The FDA is actively searching for additional sources and asking manufacturers to prepare for increased production to mitigate potential shortages. According to a report published by the Democratic majority on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, drug shortages in the United States are lasting longer. Some critical drug products have been in shortage for over a decade, despite the average drug shortage lasting about 1.5 years. The report attributes this to low profit margins on generic drugs, such as lidocaine injections, which discourage manufacturers from producing more and lead them to rely on cheaper labor and manufacturing costs overseas, creating a dependency on foreign countries.

Saif Al-Hassan
By : Saif Al-Hassan
‏Saif Al-Hassan is professional journalist and editor scine 2000, graduated from the University of Damascus , Egypt in the Department of Journalism I write in several fields work - entertainment - sports - health - science ‏ SaifAlHassan@elalamimedia.com
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