On Wednesday afternoon, a devastating tornado tore through a Pfizer manufacturing facility in North Carolina, causing extensive damage to a crucial storage of essential medicines used in hospitals across the United States.
The EF-3 tornado wreaked havoc in Nash County, resulting in damage to vegetation and homes, in addition to severely impacting the Pfizer Rocky Mount facility.
According to Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone, there are reports of approximately 50,000 pallets of medicine scattered across the facility, suffering damage from the heavy rain and powerful winds of the tornado.
Senior pharmacy director at the University of Utah Health, Erin Fox, stated that the tornado’s impact might result in long-term shortages as Pfizer reorganizes production to other facilities or undergoes rebuilding. However, the specific drugs affected by the shortage and the duration of the scarcity remain uncertain at this time.
Mike Ganio, who studies drug shortages at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, said, “Anyone who is aware of this event is basically holding their collective breath at this point, hoping for the best and waiting for news.”
He pointed out that drug manufacturers usually expedite the shipment of finished products from manufacturing sites, which could potentially limit the amount of inventory that was damaged by the tornado.
Tornado hits Pfizer plant, damaging huge amounts of medicine
— RT (@RT_com) July 20, 2023
Pfizer released a statement, saying, “We can confirm that the Pfizer Rocky Mount facility was damaged by the tornado. Pfizer colleagues at the site followed our established safety protocol and were able to evacuate. They are safe and accounted for. We are assessing the situation to determine the impact on production. Our thoughts are with our colleagues, our patients and the community as we rebuild from this weather incident.”
Pfizer’s website states that the Rocky Mount facility is one of the world’s largest sterile injectable facilities, encompassing over 1.4 million square feet of manufacturing space spread across 250 acres in Eastern North Carolina.
The facility plays a vital role in producing approximately 25% of all sterile injectables utilized in hospitals across the United States.
Pfizer said, “At this facility, a wide range of products are produced, including anesthesia, analgesia, therapeutics, anti-infectives and neuromuscular blockers. These products are available in small volume presentations, such as ampules, vials and syringes and large volume presentations, such as IV bags and semi-rigid bottles.”
Annually, the Rocky Mount facility manufactures over 400 million units that aid in treating patients worldwide.