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FDA teams with medical cos in Puerto Rico to tackle shortages

Oct 20 (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the agency was working with several pharmaceutical and medical device companies in Puerto Rico to prevent shortages of medical products in the United States as it joins a massive effort to help rebuild the island that was ravaged by Hurricane Maria.

Drugmakers are working to get facilities fully online after the storm slammed into the Caribbean island on Sept. 20, knocking out electricity and causing widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency has been monitoring more than 40 drug products in Puerto Rico, where 10 percent of the drugs prescribed in the United States are made.

The agency is also working closely with about 10 medical device makers to prevent shortages, particularly of blood-related medical devices, in the United States.

Gottlieb said last week that the United States may face a small number of drug shortages due to delays in restoring manufacturing operations in the island.

There are currently more than 50 medical device making plants in Puerto Rico, employing about 18,000 people.

The regulator is taking steps to mitigate shortages by importing devices from outside the United States or allowing manufacturers to shift production to alternative sites, the FDA said. (Reporting by Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)