On July 19, 2023, an EF3 tornado touched down in Rocky Mount, NC, badly damaging a Pfizer drug manufacturing facility that is responsible for producing nearly 25% of Pfizer’s sterile injectable medicines used in US hospitals.1
What Was Damaged?
The facility that stores raw materials, packaging supplies, and finished medicines awaiting release by quality assurance was heavily damaged. The production plant at the site had less severe damage, but it has been closed while the damage is assessed. No Pfizer employees were injured, however, and Pfizer and the Pfizer Foundation have pledged financial support to help local communities affected by the tornado.1
Pfizer is committed to rapidly restoring full function to the site, which plays a critical role in the US healthcare system. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, among other state, local, and federal officials, are participating in the efforts to get the facility back online. While the facility is being repaired, Pfizer is exploring alternative drug manufacturing locations.1
Mapping of the US Medicines Supply Chain Needed
According to the US Pharmacopeia (USP), “Tragedies like this underscore the need for an early warning system to help identify critical medicines at risk for shortage. This is why USP is pleased to support the Mapping America’s Pharmaceutical Supply (MAPS) Act (S. 2364), cosponsored by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN) and James Lankford (R-OK), which will facilitate a robust mapping of the medicines supply chain to provide a greater understanding of where active pharmaceutical ingredients and key starting materials are produced. This information can help target and inform responses—including to potential supply chain disruption events such as this weather event—to help mitigate drug shortages and make policy reforms and US government investments to enhance resilience.”2
Potential Drug Supply Disruptions
Pfizer has identified a list of drugs produced at Rocky Mount via the FDA’s National Drug Code Directory that may have supply chain disruptions as a result of the tornado damage.3 The list is based on Pfizer’s market share and inventory levels of less than 3 months across its distribution centers and the wholesale drug chain. Pfizer indicated that the 3-month inventory threshold represents a conservative estimate and is not indicative of a hard restart date. The drug list includes various injectables, such as atropine sulfate, dopamine hydrochloride, heparin, lidocaine, mannitol, midazolam, and naloxone.
For updated information about Pfizer’s medicine availability, please contact a Pfizer hospital sales representative or account executive. In addition, the Supply Continuity Team can be contacted at 844-646-4398. For medical inquiries, please contact Pfizer Medical Information at 800-438-1985.3
- Pfizer. Pfizer announces post-tornado relief plans for Rocky Mount community and manufacturing facility. July 21, 2023. https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-announces-post-tornado-relief-plans-rocky-mount. Accessed July 25, 2023.
- USP. U.S. Pharmacopeia statement on supply chain impact of tornado damage to Pfizer Inc. Rocky Mount facility. July 21, 2023. https://www.usp.org/news/us-pharmacopeia-statement-on-supply-chain-impact-of-tornado-damage-to-pfizer-inc-rocky-mount-facility. Accessed July 26, 2023.
- Pfizer. Update to Pfizer Hospital U.S. customers on the impact of the Rocky Mount tornado. July 21, 2023. https://www.medline.com/media/assets/pdf/vendor-list/Pfizer-Inc-Rocky-Mount-NC-Communication.pdf. Accessed July 27, 2023.