A key Pfizer pharmaceutical plant in North Carolina was damaged by a tornado in late
July, impacting the production of various pharmaceuticals, which will likely lead to shortages of certain medications.
The plant produces anesthesia and other drugs, as well as nearly 25% of all sterile injectable medications used in U.S. hospitals. Experts believe the damage to this plant could lead to long-term drug shortages while Pfizer works to move production elsewhere or rebuild the plant.
The FDA is working closely with Pfizer to assess the impact of the damage and plans to complete a more extensive assessment of the products that may be impacted and the current available supply of those products.
This assessment also will evaluate what is in Pfizer’s other warehouses and what is stocked by wholesalers and distributors, if those companies are willing to share that information with the FDA.
The FDA does not expect an immediate significant impact on supply, though with production delayed, the situation may change. The FDA has initiated mitigation steps, such as looking for additional sources and asking other manufacturers to prepare to ramp up production, if needed.
While Pfizer and the FDA are still determining which drugs are impacted by this development, it appears most of the drugs in question are utilized in the hospital setting.
Though this does not have an immediate and direct effect on medications commonly seen in workers’ comp, as Pfizer – and possibly other drug manufacturers at the behest of the FDA – shift gears to cover this temporary loss of production, it is possible production may be reduced for other drugs in the meantime.