After tornado, Pfizer puts Rocky Mount meds on emergency ordering list to thwart hospital shortages

In a bid to thwart shortages of critical hospital drugs, Pfizer is relegating certain products made in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to its emergency ordering list. The move comes after a tornado hit the company's injectables facility late last month, creating questions about potential supply disruptions.

Pfizer, working out of “an abundance of caution,” has released a list of 12 unique or specific presentations of nine products with high medical need. The drugs on the list—which include injections for dextrose, sodium chloride and the heart failure drug dobutamine—can only be ordered by direct shipment from Pfizer or its representatives until further notice, the company explained.

Hospitals should check the availability of these products with wholesalers or distributors and seek out therapeutic alternatives before placing emergency orders, Pfizer said.

All other products manufactured at the plant not included on the list are currently available in the distribution chain, the company added.

In late July, a powerful tornado tore through North Carolina, hitting Pfizer’s Rocky Mount manufacturing facility. Most of the damage occurred at the site’s warehouse facility, which stores raw materials, packaging supplies and finished medicines awaiting release by quality assurance, Pfizer said last week.

The damage at the plant will likely cause "long-term shortages," University of Utah Health senior pharmacy director Erin Fox told The Associated Press in late July.

Last week, meanwhile, Pfizer said it had kicked off immediate efforts to provide relief and repair damage caused to the plant. It noted crews were working around the clock to restore power, assess the structural integrity of the building and relocate finished medicines to nearby sites for storage.

At the time, Pfizer sent a letter to hospitals outlining a subset of products made at the plant that “may experience continued or new supply disruptions in the near term.”

Pfizer’s Rocky Mount plant plays a critical role in the United State’s health ecosystem. The plant is responsible for producing nearly 25% of all of Pfizer’s sterile injectables, which include anesthesia, analgesia, therapeutics, anti-infectives and neuromuscular blockers.

In turn, that represents some 8% of all the sterile injectables used in U.S. hospitals.