Medical Device and Drug Shortages Loom During Puerto Rico’s Hurricane Recovery

When Hurricane Irma devastated Puerto Rico, the more than 80 pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities and more than 50 medical-device factories in the U.S. territory were left without power, leaving federal and industry officials to identify which facilities were damaged, and whether they can operate on generator power.

These factories produce a variety of medications and medical devices, ranging from surgical instruments to cardiac pacemakers. Recovery remains slow on the island: About 75 percent of residents still have no electricity, and many manufacturing plants are running at 20 percent capacity.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tracking 30 high-priority drugs and 50 medical devices that are deemed essential and could potentially run short if disruptions in manufacturing and distribution continue. About 8 percent of medicines used by Americans come from the island, including blood fraction products, cardiovascular drugs, and therapies for cancer and HIV.

According to TheStreet, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that if power isn’t returned to the electrical grid in Puerto Rico by the end of year, he worries about both drug and medical device shortages.

Source: TheStreet, October 29, 2017.