Puerto Rico's manufacturing industry: Battered but unbroken

“As an engineer, I’m accustomed to building. Maria was hard because you had to slowly, but surely, watch the destruction unfold.”

By Karen Langhauser and Meagan Parrish, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

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Puerto Rico may often be thought of as a picturesque getaway, but in the pharma world, it’s one of the globe’s most vibrant hubs of manufacturing.

In particular, Puerto Rico became the place to make high-profit blockbuster drugs. Today, 11 of the world’s top 20 drugs are manufactured in Puerto Rico, including Humira, Enbrel and Lyrica. Manufacturing accounts for one-third of the island’s GDP, of which the pharma industry occupies the largest slice of the pie.

For Puerto Rico, September of last year was a painful cliché. Just two weeks after Hurricane Irma left more than half the island without power and nearly 50,000 without water, Maria made landfall — a crushing example of what it’s like for an entire island to be kicked when it’s already down.

Hitting the island as a Category 4 storm, and now considered the worst natural disaster to affect Puerto Rico in history, Maria’s 155-mph winds wiped out what was left of the electrical grid, grinding through wounds already opened by Irma.

Arthur Deboeck, general manager at Galephar Pharmaceutical Research, has one word for Maria: Ugly.

“As an engineer, I’m accustomed to building. Maria was hard because you had to slowly, but surely, watch the destruction unfold,” he explains.

Read the full story from our sister publication Pharmaceutical Manufacturing at pharmamanufacturing.com

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