GSK closes a North Carolina factory due to Legionnaire disease causing bacteria

On Tuesday, GlaxoSmithKline, the British multinational pharmaceutical company, has closed a North Carolina factory temporarily. The drug maker has taken this decision after tests carried out in a cooling tower found bacteria responsible for causing a deadly condition called Legionnaire’s disease. According to information provided by the company, it was actually a routine inspection at the factory in Zebulon, N.C.

However, the good news is that the shutdown due to Legionella bacteria will most likely not disrupt the supply of medicines manufactured at the factory. One of the most widely used GSK medication Advair is manufactured in this factory. For those who don’t know: Advair is an inhaled respiratory drug that brings in a yearly profit of as much as $7 billion.

It is expected that there would be no disruption in the supply of Advair as the medicine is also manufactured in two other GSK factories, one in Evreux, France and the other in Ware, England.

GSK stated that it has closed the North Carolina factory as a precautionary measure and assured that it will be reopened as soon as the problem is remedied. Here, it must be mentioned that the cooling tower is a standalone structure and doesn’t come in contact with any product manufactured at the factory.

Following the shutdown, all cooling towers at the factory will be cleaned thoroughly and then retested. Operations will begin only if the test produces satisfactory results. GSK has decided to take all these precautions for ensuring complete safety for its employees. Also, the drug maker is also keen to maintain integrity and safety of its products.

Jenni Brewer Ligday, the company’s spokeswoman, informed that 600 workers have been asked to go home and not come back until the towers get cleaned.

According to state and city officials, this discovery doesn’t require issuing of a public health alert. Reports are also suggesting that the city’s drinking water is under no threat of being contaminated by the bacteria.

The plant in Zebulon manufactures nearly 30 different drugs including Requip, a medication for Parkinson’s disease, malaria medication Malarone, HIV drug Combivir, etc. However, the biggest product manufactured in this factory is Advair, a drug prescribed to patients with chronic lung disease and asthma. GSK also has plans of making powdered inhaled respiratory drugs like Anoro and Breo at its North Carolina plant.


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