Industry and government working to minimise impact of shortages of olefin feedstocks and medical products

When hurricane Harvey ravaged southeast Texas in August it shut down more than half of US production of linear alpha olefins (LAOs), which corresponds to about one sixth of global production. There is very limited spare capacity globally for LAOs, so many producers of products like polyethylene that depend upon these suppliers are ‘scrambling to secure supply,’ according to new analysis by IHS Markit. The impacts will be felt down the supply chain, IHS warns.

As Puerto Rico recovers from the devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been working closely with pharma companies to reduce the risk of critical drug shortages and to minimise the impact on any existing shortages of medicines.

For example, the agency has worked with Baxter to closely monitor and identify ways to prevent a significant production shortfall of saline injection bags. As well as helping Baxter restore operations in Puerto Rico, the FDA has helped facilitate imports from the company’s facilities in Ireland and Australia.

The agency is also creating alternate sources of a variety of critical drugs by expediting reviews and approvals of other dosage forms and generic versions.