SYNTEX ASSESSING DAMAGE TO ITS PALO ALTO HEADQUARTERS
SYNTEX ASSESSING DAMAGE TO ITS PALO ALTO HEADQUARTERS sustained in the earthquake that struck the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area Oct. 17. By week-end, six of the company's 23 Bay Area buildings remained partially closed or had restricted access; four buildings were completely closed, pending clean-up and repairs or further inspections for structural damage, a spokesperson said. Syntex is still calculating final damage estimates. The main building at Syntex "came through fine" and the company reported only three employee injuries among its approximately 4,000 Bay Area workers, the spokesperson noted. Manufacturing operations were back and running on Oct. 18, but some research facilities sustained damage or required extensive clean-up. At Genentech headquarters in South San Francisco, Cetus and Chiron in Emeryville (between Berkeley and Oakland) and Xoma in Berkeley, the main problem was the power outage which affected most of the Bay Area immediately after the earthquake. The companies all have emergency generator systems. None reported any significant structural damage. Genentech said it believes "that no ongoing research or inventory was harmed," thanks to the generators kicking-in. Power was fully restored by Oct. 18. Master culture and production strains at Cetus "are fine" because of the back-up power system, a spokesperson said. Chiron's product inventory "and proprietary research and production strains of recombinant organisms are intact and continue to be maintained under proper storage conditions," the company said Oct. 19. At Xoma, it is "business as usual." There are at least 27 biotech and pharmaceutical companies in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay area, scattered among the seven counties affected by the earthquake. Other companies in the area include KabiVitrum and Triton Biosciences in Alameda; Genelabs and Cygnus Research in Redwood City; and Liposome Technology in Menlo Park. Drug wholesaler delivery operations to hospitals and computerized customer ordering systems also came through the main quake and the numerous aftershocks. McKesson, Bergen-Brunswig and Amfac -- three of the country's major drug wholesalers -- each have offices in the Bay area and all are linked with the state's detailed earthquake preparedness plan. McKesson said its national data center in Sacramento was unaffected by the quake, except for tied-up phone lines. The company experienced no delivery problems from the outset, a spokesperson said. However, McKesson corporate headquarters in downtown San Francisco remained only partially open at week-end with a skeleton crew, due to faulty air-conditioning. Bergen-Brunswig, which had an airplane and helicopter standing by in case ground transportation hampered hospital deliveries, said it did not have any problems apart from freeway and road congestion in making deliveries in the early hours after the quake. A Bergen spokesperson noted that product inventory levels at hospitals and in drug distribution facilities in general is high at this time of the year, so that there likely would not have been any severe drug shortages even if deliveries had been delayed more. Amfac provided emergency supplies via helicopter airlift from Sacramento to the Santa Cruz and Watsonville community hospitals, both in towns near the quake's epicenter. At a local level, Amfac's Union City Branch reported it was able to make all its deliveries on Oct. 17. The company's Oakland distribution facility did have to switch to a back-up computer system because of power outages.
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