Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, based in West Columbia, S.C., makes a significant portion of the nebulizer medicines used in the treatment of COVID-19 in the United States.
Typically, Nephron produces about 85 million doses of inhalation solution every month. As orders skyrocket for treatments used to combat respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, the manufacturer is working tirelessly to keep up with demand.
“We have all of our production lines going at 100 percent, and we’re rewarding faster changeover times to make sure we get them quickly cleaned, steamed and back in operation for the next batch,” said Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO and owner Lou Kennedy. “We’ve more than doubled production. I predicted we might reach 110 million batches this month—and as of the end of March, we were at 193 million. We’re operating at max capacity, and orders are still coming in.”
Nephron has been in touch with federal regulators, including the Food and Drug Administration, seeking permission to open six additional product lines. Kennedy hopes to move forward with those additional lines in the near future in order to expand capacity and deliver additional products. So far, Kennedy has been encouraged by the FDA response.
“I can tell you that we have never seen a more responsive FDA,” said Kennedy. “All things are moving at breakneck speed, and I am so appreciative for that.”
In addition to serving patients across the country, Nephron is working to ensure that its employees stay safe and healthy, with temperature checks for every employee at shift changes and a ban on outside visitors at the facility. In addition to producing medication, Nephron is making hand sanitizer for employees’ use and will donate much of the surplus product to community organizations. In order to serve employees who need childcare assistance as schools close and daycare centers cease to operate, Nephron has organized a group of certified K-12 teachers to safely provide childcare from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Even as some workplaces shut down, manufacturers like Nephron continue to produce and innovate at high speed, helping to deliver medical supplies and other essential products at a time of urgent need across the country.
“Every moment we’re involved in something new,” said Kennedy. “It’s just amazing how this country is coming together—and we’re so happy to do anything we can. Any little bit of help, we’re glad to do it.”
“In times of significant need, manufacturers have always stepped forward to answer the call,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers. “As we face this period of challenge and uncertainty, we are delivering for our customers, for our communities, for our country and for the world.”