UPDATE: Glaxo to reopen NC plant this weekend after Legionnaires' scare
UPDATE: GlaxoSmithKline announced on Wednesday that the company has begun the decontamination process at the site and that it anticipates "resuming production in the next 72 hours after cleaning, disinfecting, and returning the plant back to normal operating conditions." That means it's likely to open up again this weekend.
But some questions still remain, and Glaxo will almost certainly be doing intensive screenings on drugs that have been manufactured at the facility in recent weeks.
- GlaxoSmithKline was forced to close one of its main manufacturing plants near Raleigh, North Carolina on Tuesday after routine testing found Legionnaires' bacteria—which can cause a fatal form of pneumonia—in a cooling tower at the facility.
- Glaxo officials emphasized that there is no evidence that the bacteria infiltrated any medications and that the cooling tower "does not come into contact with product manufactured at the facility."
- As a precaution, the company told nearly half of the 850 employees at the manufacturing plant to steer clear of the facility until the cooling tower has been cleaned. The plant produces Glaxo's flagship asthma product Advair, as well as other drugs from different pharma companies.
Manufacturing mishaps are, to some extent, inevitable. But Legionnaires' are scary bacteria, and this incident has occurred in the context of an ongoing Legionnaires' outbreak stemming from a Bronx cooling tower that has left a dozen people dead so far.
"We are trying to gather information on what the situation is," a Glaxo spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal. "It was found during routine testing, so we’re trying to get a better handle of how often those testings are conducted, also more details on whether product has been impacted and, if they have, what is our procedure in place to handle that."
The FDA is also currently looking into this matter.