In the wake of the devastating Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Johnson & Johnson executives say the company's manufacturing facilities "fared well" and are getting back up to full speed.
"Intermittent" drug shortages are possible, they said, but the company doesn't expect the storm to make a significant dent in its finances, executives told analysts and investors on Tuesday's third-quarter conference call.
J&J has six manufacturing sites on the island and all are open in "varying stages of capacity," CFO Dominic Caruso said on Tuesday. The company has already started shipping new products from Puerto Rico manufacturing sites after the storm, he added.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico late last month, leaving much of the island in wreckage and causing dozens of deaths. Even still, many residents are without power and water.
27 days after Maria hit Puerto Rico, 82.3% have no power, 34.5% have no drinking water. [*up* 6.5% from yesterday] https://t.co/O329M8IoxZ— Carl Zimmer (@carlzimmer) October 17, 2017
After the storm, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb traveled there to meet with pharmaceutical executives and assess the damage. At the time, the FDA had a list of more than three dozen drugs it feared could run scarce as a result of Hurricane Maria. Thirteen are made only in Puerto Rico.
“These are critical medicines,” Gottlieb told USA Today at the time. “These are not drugs for which there are therapeutic substitutes.”
The global pharma industry has a large manufacturing footprint in Puerto Rico, representing 72% of the country's exports or $14.5 billion last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
All told, there are 50 pharma plants on the island. Immediately after the storm, most were operating on backup power and with limited employees as Puerto Rico residents worked to recover. Reports have said it could take several months to completely restore power on the island.
AbbVie, Amgen, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb are among the other drugmakers with plants in Puerto Rico.