Puerto Rico Drug Shortages Could Impact More Than Just Humans

Multiple drug companies have manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, which was greatly impacted by Hurricane Maria on September 20. With widespread damage to infrastructure, including loss of electricity and difficulty obtaining materials used in the manufacturing process, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that there will be shortages of 40 drugs until the plants are functioning again. Of these, 14 drugs are made solely in Puerto Rico plants.

These drugs include those for rheumatoid arthritis, HIV and cancer (no specific medicines have been named). Ten percent of the drugs prescribed in the United States are made in Puerto Rico.

In addition to human medicines, many of the manufacturing plants also produce equine medications. The drug companies that have manufacturing facilities on the island include: Pfizer Inc, Eli Lilly and Co, Merck & Co, Amgen Inc, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, Johnson and Johnson, AstraZeneca and GSK.

While many of the manufacturing plants are still operating, they are running well below full capacity. Plants are relying on backup generators for electricity and it is not clear for how long this method of production is sustainable. Currently only 16 percent of electric service has been restored to he island.

To alleviate shortages, the Food and Drug  Administration is working with drug manufacturers to consider approval of additional manufacturing sites in locations like Ireland, Canada and Mexico.

Read more at Reuters.

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