Pfizer Inc. is suspending operations on Thursday at two facilities in North Carolina ahead of the possible landfall of Hurricane Florence.
The drugmaker's sterile injectibles division, Hospira, has a manufacturing facility in Rocky Mount. That business, which supplies hospital drugs, has been under pressure due to product shortages. The New York-based drugmaker said it was working to ensure that the pharmaceutical supply wouldn't be affected by the impending storm.
"Pfizer has contingency plans in place to ensure the continuity of supply, and mitigate interruptions during natural disasters," spokesman Steven Danehy said in an emailed statement.
Erin Fox, an expert on drug-supply issues at the University of Utah, said that Hospira's Rocky Mount facility is a key source of injected hospital drugs in the U.S. and that a prolonged disruption in its operations would worsen longstanding supply squeezes for such medications.
The company experienced what it described as a 17 percent operational decline in its sterile injectibles business in the most recent quarter, weighing on Pfizer's financial results. The drugmaker is working to return the division to growth.
"We continue with our comprehensive remediation plan to upgrade and modernize these facilities," Chief Executive Officer Ian Read said in May, though he didn't specifically mention the facility in Rocky Mount.
Bloomberg's Robert Langreth contributed to this report.