Fire at Sun API plant in India kills two, injures two others

Sun Pharma, which is facing a host of challenges tied to its manufacturing operations, is now dealing with the aftermath of a fire at an API plant in Ahmednagar that killed two and injured two others.

Sun reported (PDF) to the Bombay Stock Exchange that the fire occurred Dec. 28 during excavation work at the facility. The four workmen at the site that suffered burns were rushed to the hospital, but two died from their injuries. The other two are doing well, the company reported

“We stand by the families of these four workmen in this hour of distress and will look into providing all kind of support as necessary,” the company said in its filing.

The company, which is investigating the incident with police, pointed out that there was no loss in production as a result of the fire. It said the fire will not affect Sun’s operations and so it is not a “material event."

While Sun sorts out the issues at the Ahmednagar plant, it is the drugmaker's API plant in nearby Halol that is at the heart of many of its manufacturing concerns. The plant, a key facility for the production of drugs for the U.S., in 2014 was hit with a warning letter from the FDA. Sun, India’s largest drugmaker, invested in new systems in expectation that the FDA would again clear the facility during a recent reinspection. Instead, Sun reported last month that the FDA had cited it with more observations. The company said it was responding.

While uncommon, there is always the potential for fires at pharma facilities. A fire at a small Indian pharma plant in 2012 killed four and injured 17. Teva had two fatal fires in the course of 14 months several years ago after explosions at plants in Hungary and Israel. And three employees were killed and another 18 injured when an explosion leveled a Neptune Technologies & Bioressources omega-3 manufacturing facility in Sherbrooke, Quebec in 2013.