GSK runs into supply issues after China plant damaged by nearby explosion

Three weeks after a massive explosion at a chemical warehouse in China, a GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) plant in Tianjin remains closed, leaving the drugmaker to try to figure out how to supply some customers.

A spokesman for the company acknowledged Monday the plant had been damaged after a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse that that killed 160 in China and did widespread damage. No GSK employees were injured, but spokesman Simon Steel said in an emailed statement that the facility remains closed.

"Restoration of manufacturing remains our top priority," Steel said. "We are in contact with our impacted markets and exploring alternative supply options."

He did not say which markets, but according to the Nikkei Asian Review, GSK is having problems supplying the hepatitis B treatment Tenozet in Japan. The publication said that GSK received PPMDA approval for Tenozet in May of last year with the Japan Society of Hepatology designating it as a drug of first choice for treating hepatitis B.

The company told Nikkei that at the end of August it had a two-month inventory in Japan, and that its local subsidiary in the country was working to get production facilities in place. Pending approval of local production, GSK said it also is looking at getting supplies from other companies, Nikkei said. Meanwhile, doctors are being asked to limit the amount of drug dispensed and limit the number of new prescriptions provided to patients.

This interruption comes only weeks after GSK had to close a plant in the U.S for a week. GSK idled its plant in Zebulon, NC Aug. 11 after detecting the bacteria for Legionnaires' disease in cooling towers during routine testing. While employees and products were unaffected by the bacteria, the plant was closed and employees sent home because the cooling towers were essential to manufacturing. Once the towers had been disinfected, the plant was restarted. It said no supply interruptions were expected from the temporary shutdown.

- read the story from Nikkei Asian Review