Medical device makers see little impact from Fiona on Puerto Rican operations

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(Reuters) – Medical device companies and some pharmaceutical companies with manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico said they did not expect real disruption from Hurricane Fiona, which knocked out power to more than 3 million people and caused floods and landslides on the island.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which worked with companies to prevent shortages of drugs and medical devices after Hurricane Maria hit the medical manufacturing center in 2017, said it was in discussions with companies that regulate it there about any impact on supplies.

Most of the companies Reuters spoke to, including Baxter International (BAX.N)they said they either paused operations initially or have been running their factories on generators since Fiona hit on Sunday.

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None of them said they expected supplies to the United States to be significantly disrupted by the storm, in part due to infrastructure changes, such as building generator power, in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The island’s power grid is owned by the bankrupt state-run Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and now operated by LUMA Energy, a private joint venture of Canadian energy company ATCO Ltd and U.S. energy contractor Quanta Services (PWR.N).

While the pace of energy recovery has been much faster than in the aftermath of the devastation in Maria, an estimated one million homes and businesses remain without electricity. Baxter, which makes small pouches for injectable drugs, clinical nutrition products and inhaled anesthetics in Puerto Rico, said its facilities had “little or no damage” from the storm.

By Thursday, Baxter had resumed operations and was operating at normal levels before the hurricane, company spokeswoman Lauren Ross said.

The company earned $70 million in revenue after Hurricane Maria in 2017, which prompted it to diversify into major product manufacturing.

Before hurricane season, the company is now building up supplies of some products and stocking much of it in the US mainland, Ross said, adding that Baxter has good stock levels for most products produced in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic for US customers.

Integra Life Sciences (IART.O) Abbott Laboratories has also upgraded standby generators, communication capabilities, and infrastructure support in the plants such as improvements to roofs and piping, their spokesmen said.

“Most MedTech companies are more prepared with increased iterations” than they were when he hit on Maria, JP Morgan analyst Robbie Marcus in a research note.

Official spokespersons for other medical equipment companies including Becton Dickinson (BDX.N)Medtronic (MDT.N)Edwards Life Sciences (EW.N) Stryker (SYK.N) They also said they don’t see a significant impact on operations from Hurricane Fiona due to actions taken after Maria.

Drugmakers with plants in Puerto Rico said they were able to keep up with production and supplies, too.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) He said operations had resumed at all of its Puerto Rican locations by Wednesday.

Abvi (ABBV.N) The facilities are intact and working and you are unlikely to see any patient impact or product shortages due to Fiona, according to a person familiar with the company’s operations who asked not to be named.

A spokeswoman for Eli Lilly and Co said they have not experienced any disruptions to their location or supply.

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Additional reporting by Leroy Liu and Khushi Mandwara in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Michael Ehrman. Editing by Caroline Homer and Bill Bercrot

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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