Lonza announced this week that it is keeping the doors closed at four of its production facilities in China that were already shut down for the Chinese New Year.
None of the production sites are located in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. But Lonza said it decided to keep the doors closed as a precautionary measure. Any continuous operations underway at the facilities will continue, and the company said that it is notifying customers that could be affected by the extended closures on a case-by-case basis. Lonza also stated that so far, it expects production disruptions to be minimal.
The move comes as scores of major multinational companies close down operations in China, evacuate employees and impose quarantines on workers returning from China. And as China becomes increasingly cut off from the rest of the world, concerns are mounting over how supply chains in a number of industries that source materials from China will be impacted.
Pharma could be particularly vulnerable to disruptions in China’s exports of APIs. Although most major pharma companies use multiple sources for key APIs, many companies are dependent on Chinese ingredients.
New Jersey-based Prinston Pharmaceuticals, for example, told the Washington Post that it relies on Chinese-made ingredients for its blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and depression medications. Novus Pharmaceuticals said it is in the same boat for its treatment for malaria.
But so far, no major shortages have been reported and the Chinese government has urged drugmakers to continue or increase production in China, which some companies are promising they’ll do. Last week, WuXi Biologics, for example released a statement saying that it is executing a Business Continuity Plan to mitigate potential production risks.