After Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island without power for an extended period, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is attempting to mitigate drug shortages, as the U.S. territory is a major hub for pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The FDA is tracking 40 high-priority drugs that are deemed essential and could potentially run short if disruptions in manufacturing and distribution continue. Twelve of the medications are produced only in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is home to 50 pharmaceutical plants and 30 medical-device manufacturing facilities. Federal and industry officials are working to identify which facilities were damaged, and whether they can operate on generator power.
As Puerto Rico rebuilds after the storm, the FDA is working with other U.S. agencies, including the Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, to create physical access to facilities, evaluate needs for generator fuel, and obtain flight permissions to export critical products.
In an official statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said, "This is both a short- and long-term issue. We need to ensure access to these critical treatments for the Americans who need them, but also recognize the important role that the medical-product industry plays in helping Puerto Rico sustain its economy and help in its recovery."
Sources: The Washington Post, September 29, 2017; FDA news release, September 25, 2017.