The industry has taken steps to ensure safety in spite of the natural disaster.
Hurricane Florence is now a tropical depression, but continues to drop massive quantities of water on stricken areas along the mid-east coast. Before Florence arrived, pharmaceutical companies with facilities in the path of the storm were taking major steps to prepare.
Companies were focused on minimizing any potential damage to facilities and ensuring the safety of employees while also working to be certain that adequate supplies of the medicines they produce at these facilities are available in order to avoid shortages after the storm passes.
GlaxoSmithKline activated its continuity plan for its inhaler plant in Zebulon, North Carolina, which the company closed in advance of the hurricane, and its commercial hub in Research Triangle Park. “Our first priority is the health and safety of our employees and continuous supply of medicines to customers,” the company said in an email.
Novo Nordisk closed the construction site in Clayton, North Carolina where it is building a large facility for active pharmaceutical ingredient production. The company was also monitoring the situation and had plans in place to ensure continued operation of its critical production areas as long as it was safe to do so, according to a spokesperson.
Pfizer suspended operations at two facilities in North Carolina, including a Hospira injectables production plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. This shutdown could further aggravate existing shortages of many injectable drugs in the US. The company implemented its contingency plan, which is designed to mitigate supply interruptions.
Novartis closed its plant in Wilson, North Carolina, which it recently announced will be sold to Aurbindo as part of a $900 million deal. It had also shifted products out of potentially impacted areas to maintain supplies flowing to patients and has communicated safety preparations to approximately 2,700 associates and contractors.
Merck & Co. closed down all four of its production facilities in North Carolina and Virginia and made adjustments to shipments in order to maintain product supplies. It also acquired additional power generators to avoid the problems that many pharma companies experienced in Puerto Rico after the island was hit with a large hurricane in 2017.