Pfizer Inc. announced on Monday that it has successfully restarted production at its Rocky Mount, North Carolina facility, which was severely damaged by a tornado in July. However, the company cautioned that some medications may not be fully available until next year.
The tornado primarily impacted a warehouse area where finished drugs were stored. This specific Pfizer site is responsible for manufacturing nearly 50 different drugs, such as anesthesia, painkillers, and micronutrients. These medicines make up around 8% of the total supply of sterile injectable medicines in US hospitals.
While most manufacturing lines have resumed production, Pfizer emphasized that this is just the initial step towards complete recovery for the plant. The company will be gradually phasing-in the production restart, prioritizing certain drugs based on patient need and inventory. Currently, there are approximately 13 medicines being manufactured on the restarted lines, including those available through Pfizer's emergency ordering process. The first shipments are expected to be sent out by the end of this year.
However, Pfizer cautioned that it may take until next year for some medicines to be fully back in stock. According to the company, "full supply" refers to having enough stockpiles to meet historical demand projections along with several weeks of a "safety stock" in distribution centers.
The impact of the tornado on the Rocky Mount facility is anticipated to affect medicine supply until at least mid-2024, meaning that the facility will not be operating at full capacity for several more years. As a result, Pfizer will continue to implement its emergency-request ordering process as a precautionary measure to effectively manage the inventory of high-demand products.
Despite the challenges faced by the company, Pfizer remains committed to meeting patient needs and ensuring that vital medications are available to those who require them.