Shire Pharmaceuticals (LSE:SHP; SHPGY) has been the one British life sciences company that investors could look to for some comfort. Last Wednesday that view went up in smoke. An explosion at a manufacturing facility owned and operated by Arenol Inc. (Sommerville, N.J.) has cut off SHP's sole supply of active ingredients for its two leading products for at least four months and possibly as long as 12 months. To make matters worse, SHP was not covered for such a loss.

According to SHP, U.S. sales of Adderall and DextroStat treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company's turnover in the six months ended June 30. The company is expected to announce its interim results this week, but analysts at Panmure Gordon have readjusted their full year profit projection from £10 million (US$16.3 million) to £1 million, with sales down by at least $21 million from an expected $33 million.