The resumption of production also includes the launch of one line at the site’s new sterile injectable manufacturing area, which had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this year.
Pfizer said production at the Rocky Mount facility will be in phases, with full production across the site’s three manufacturing suites anticipated at the end of 2023. The restart of production was prioritized based on patient needs and inventory levels, and Pfizer said about 13 medicines are now in production on restarted lines.
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First shipments of those medications are expected during the fourth quarter of 2023, but officials warned that some medicines won’t be in full supply until 2024.
"The impact of the tornado on the site is expected to affect the supply of medicines from the Rocky Mount facility until at least mid-2024," Pfizer said.
There had been fears that damage to the Pfizer facility would only exacerbate drug shortages in the U.S.
Pfizer's Rocky Mount facility produces nearly 50 high-quality medicines, including anesthesia, analgesia, and micronutrients, and those medicines comprise about 25 percent of Pfizer’s sterile injectables used in U.S. hospitals, or about 8 percent of the total U.S. hospital supply.
Parts of North Carolina devastated by July tornado
The National Weather Service said the 600-yard-wide tornado formed east of Raleigh just before 12:30 p.m. on July 19 and spent the next 33 minutes on the ground tearing through communities along Interstate 95, including Rocky Mount and Dortches, where video showed a home being destroyed by the tornado.
The tornado was found to have winds of at least 150 mph, making it an EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
It was the first EF-3 tornado ever observed in central North Carolina during the month of July, according to the NWS.