Emergent BioSolutions Inc. executives said part of the blame for a snafu in manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson at its Baltimore plant that led to the destruction of millions of doses was due to the fact it was trying to produce two vaccines at scale. Emergent, a contract drug manufacturer, outlined some of the problems and its plan to fix them in a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that was released on Wednesday by a House subcommittee ahead of testimony by Emergent’s Chief Executive Robert Kramer and Executive Chairman Fuad El-Hibri. “The sudden scale-up to full-scale manufacturing activities for two different Covid-19 vaccine drug substances strained the capacity of Emergent’s” refrigerators,” said the letter dated April 30. The House committee released documents showing that Emergent received $628 million in June 2020 to become the primary manufacturer of vaccines developed by J&J and AstraZeneca PLC , “despite a long, documented history of inadequately trained staff and quality control issues.” “The Committees’ investigation raises troubling new questions about the lucrative contract Emergent received under the Trump Administration, the company’s failure to address manufacturing problems that led to the destruction of millions of desperately needed coronavirus vaccine doses, and large bonuses paid to top executives despite these failures,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, in a letter to the two executives. Emergent shares were down 2.8% Wednesday and have fallen 37% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 9%.
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