WASHINGTON – After an EF-3 tornado ripped through North Carolina this week, there are concerns U.S. hospitals could face drug shortages.
One of the hardest hit sites was the Pfizer factory in Rocky Mount, a huge facility with the equivalent of more than 24 football fields in manufacturing space.
The drug company says all employees were safely evacuated, adding in a tweet that it is still "determining the best way to get back online as quickly as possible."
The plant produces nearly 25 percent of Pfizer's sterile injectables used in U.S. hospitals. That includes medicines that treat infections and drugs for anesthesia and surgeries.
Experts warn there could be long-term shortages as Pfizer shifts production to other locations or rebuilds.
All of this puts even more pressure on already strained drug supplies at U.S. hospitals.
Overall, there were 309 drug shortages in the U.S. at the end of June. That's up from 295 at the end of last year and the highest total recorded since 2014.
It's still not clear which drugs might be affected or how long a shortage could last. For now, hospitals are storing up supplies and holding their breath until more is known.