Tornado Hit on Pfizer Plant Could Cause Drug Shortages

North Carolina facility made 25% of sterile injectable medication used in US hospitals
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2023 6:00 PM CDT
Updated Jul 20, 2023 12:45 PM CDT
Tornado Wrecks Pfizer Plant
The Pfizer plant is damaged after severe weather passed the area on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 in Rocky Mount, NC.   (WTVD via AP)
UPDATE Jul 20, 2023 12:45 PM CDT

A tornado that did serious damage to a Pfizer plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on Wednesday has probably worsened America's nationwide drug shortage, Bloomberg reports. The tornado ripped off the pharmaceutical plant's roof, and the county sheriff said 50,000 pallets of medicine were damaged. According to Pfizer's website, the plant makes drugs including anesthesia drugs, along with a quarter of the sterile injectable medications used in American hospitals, reports the AP. Erin Fox, senior pharmacy director at University of Utah Health, says there will likely be "long-term shortages while Pfizer works to either move production to other sites or rebuilds."

Jul 19, 2023 6:00 PM CDT

A tornado caused major damage to a Pfizer plant in North Carolina on Wednesday, but the company said there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries at the Nash County facility. The National Weather Service said the tornado that touched down around 45 miles northeast of Raleigh was at least an EF-2, with winds up to 135mph, CNN reports. The tornado flattened several structures in its path and shut down Interstate 95.

At the Pfizer plant, which is one of the county's biggest employers, the roof was crumpled and debris was strewn across a wide area. "I've got reports of 50,000 pallets of medicine that are strewn across the facility and damaged through the rain and the wind," Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said, per the AP. Stone urged area residents to stay off the roads because of damage including downed power lines. (More tornado stories.)

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