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Puerto Rico manufacturing, pharma affected by lack of electric power

By on October 13, 2017

SAN JUAN – La Fortaleza’s Public Affairs secretary, Ramón Rosario, said Friday that Puerto Rico’s manufacturing and pharmaceutical industry activity has declined since Hurricane María knocked out the island’s electric grid, and that if service is not restored now, they could be lost.

Rosario said that Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy and Secretary of State Luis G. Rivera Marín, along with a group from the private sector have been addressing the requests of that sector for energy service, but that “manufacturing has certainly dropped,” despite being a priority for the government. Rosario added that hospital products company Baxter’s Aibonito facility began getting power service directly from the electric utility.

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“This obviously is starting from zero when it comes to manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies in Puerto Rico. These are certainly big challenges that we have, and if we don’t address them adequately now, we could lose them. This is a very important segment for the economy not only for revenues, but also for job creation,” he said.

Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Earlier in the week, Rosario downplayed a Caribbean Business questions regarding comments made by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb that there might be a shortage of about 40 drugs because the pharmaceutical companies’ operations have been affected. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis the pharma products manufactured in Puerto Rico make up nearly 10 percent of all drugs consumed by Americans.

Medtronic has said it is partially operating and expects to lose about $250 million in the second quarter.

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Some industries are already increasing production in factories outside of Puerto Rico of products that are no longer being manufactured locally because of a lack of electrical power. Many plants are partially operating and others have not been able to operate.

In the case of pharmaceuticals, Gottlieb said the facilities that sustained minimal structural damage are running on diesel generators because it would take months for electric service to be restored. This could lead to new shortages due to service interruptions.

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