Wild video shows the moment a tornado struck a Pfizer facility in North Carolina, kicking up debris and flattening the roof of the medical-supply facility.
The tornado was classified as an EF-3, according to the National Weather Service, and produced winds of up to 150 miles per hour that partially decimated the company’s Rocky Mount storage power plant on Wednesday.
Although experts feared the damaged facility would lead to long-term shortages of certain medicines, Dr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, on Friday said the agency expects “no immediate significant impact on care after damage from a tornado”. Fox business reported.
“For products manufactured at this facility that are already experiencing shortages or are at risk of shortages, the FDA has initiated remedial actions, such as seeking additional sources and asking other manufacturers to prepare to ramp up production if necessary,” Califf said.
He also said that Pfizer imposed strict allocations on the inventor of many products to ensure fair distribution and availability and avoid hoarding.
The Pfizer plant in Mount Rocky, North Carolina was badly hit by the powerful EF3 tornado
According to the authorities, around 50,000 pallets of medicines were damaged. The destruction endangers the production of anesthetics and other sterile injectables
The tornado began around 12:35 p.m. near Nashville, North Carolina and swept northeast through Rocky Mount, 60 miles east of Raleigh, where it decimated the Pfizer facility.
The severe weather system devastated the region, causing a partial roof collapse at Pfizer’s Rocky Mount plant on Wednesday. The facility is one of the largest of its kind in the world and supplies nearly 25 percent of all sterile injectables used in US hospitals.
According to the authorities, around 50,000 pallets of medicines were damaged.
“It will likely create long-term bottlenecks while Pfizer works to either relocate or rebuild manufacturing,” Erin Fox, senior pharmacy director at the University of Utah Health, told CBS News earlier in the week.
In a statement on social media, Califf described recent events as “a dynamic situation and FDA staff are in constant communication with Pfizer and other manufacturers.”
“Importantly, given that the products are currently in hospitals and in the distribution system, we do not anticipate any immediate significant impact on supply,” he said in part.
“The FDA will work closely with partners in government, industry, and the wider healthcare system to minimize the impact on patient care.”
Dashcam footage captured the high winds and flying debris that swept across the region
The Pfizer plant that existed before the destruction also produces vials, syringes, IV bags, and bottles of anesthetics, analgesics, therapeutics, anti-infectives, and neuromuscular blockers
The tornado began around 12:35 p.m. near Nashville, North Carolina and swept northeast through Rocky Mount, 60 miles east of Raleigh, where it decimated the Pfizer facility
The tornado ran out of power in Scotland Neck, 40 miles from where it originated.
The pharmaceutical giant said in a statement all employees had been safely evacuated and there were no reports of serious injuries at the plant.
Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said large amounts of the drugs stored at the plant were thrown around during the tornado.
“I have reports of 50,000 pallets of medicines scattered around the facility damaged by rain and wind,” the official said, according to CBS News.
Pfizer said the 250-acre site with 1.4 million square feet of manufacturing space is “one of the largest sterile injection facilities in the world.”
Around 400 million units leave the site every year.
It also produces vials, syringes, infusion bags and bottles containing anesthetics, analgesics, therapeutics, anti-infectives and neuromuscular blockers.
“We are assessing the situation to determine the impact on production,” the company said.
“Our thoughts are with our colleagues, our patients and the community as we rebuild from this weather accident.”
Pfizer tweeted Wednesday, “We are assessing the situation to determine the impact on production.” “Our thoughts are with our colleagues, our patients and the community as we rebuild from this weather disaster.”
According to officials in two counties, 16 people were injured – including two with life-threatening wounds – and 89 buildings were damaged.
Pfizer’s 3,200 employees and contractors were reportedly able to safely evacuate and find shelter before the storm hit Wednesday.
Authorities and emergency responders are working tirelessly to assess the full extent of the damage and provide help and support to those affected.