Cadila shutters Indian ingredients plant after 26 workers test positive for COVID-19

Global drugmakers are working overtime to keep supplies coming amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. But in manufacturing facilities packed with workers, COVID-19 presents a particularly difficult challenge—and now one Indian plant has been forced to shutter due to a rash of infections.

Cadila Pharmaceuticals has shut down an active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) plant in Dholka, Ahmedabad, India, after 26 employees tested positive for COVID-19, Reuters reported.

Cadila ordered the facility closed Thursday and required 95 of its employees be quarantined at home. The drugmaker had also begun sanitizing the site, Reuters said.

The shutdown at the Cadila plant comes just weeks after another Indian manufacturing hub was temporarily locked down as a COVID-19 hotspot and underscores the dangers the novel coronavirus has posed for the global supply chain.

In late April, a manufacturing hub in Baddi, India—responsible for 35% to 40% of the nation's pharmaceutical output—came back online after weeks on lockdown as a COVID-19 containment zone, Business Standard reported.

Some of the world's biggest generics and API providers have factories in Baddi that were shut down partially or in full as part of the lockdown, including Sun Pharma, Abbott Laboratories and Dr. Reddy's.

To help keep the facilities running at full capacity, the Indian government allowed a one-time movement of employees from Chandigarh state to Baddi to help staff the plants, according to Business Standard, as well as a resumption of intradistrict movement within Himachal Pradesh, where Baddi resides.

Cadila's decision to shut down its Dholka facility highlighted concerns Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson raised in early April when he said that one worker with a fever at a drugmaker's manufacturing site could require "a half dozen" to go into quarantine.

At the time, Sanofi was working to scale production of Plaquenil, a branded version of antimalarial hydroxychloroquine, but had to work at reduced capacity to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections, Hudson told Reuters.

May 8, 2020

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