According to a public filing Friday, Robert Kramer, CEO of Emergent BioSolutions, received a 51 percent increase in total compensation in 2020, to $5.6 million, before the company ruined 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to The Washington Post. According to the report, the vaccine had been contaminated with ingredients of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Emergent, a federally contracted manufacturer which specializes in biodefense and emergency response, currently has agreements with two vaccine makers, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, to manufacture at its Bayview (Baltimore) facility.
Kramer responded in an interview that these reports were “misunderstandings and misconceptions,” according to MSN. “It isn’t the case or wasn’t the case where an ingredient from one vaccine contaminated or impacted the other,” Kramer added.
Tinglong Dai, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins’ Carey Business School, said Emergent needs to be clear about what happened. “They should do a better job of explaining what really happened…We really need full transparency…The very first step they can take is to provide a very detailed account of what happened.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki spoke on Thursday about the matter, saying “I think it’s important for people to remember that this plant[Emergent BioSolutions] has not been FDA approved. It’s still going through a rigorous review. And J&J is of course working through that process to bring the facility online and gain authorization” Psaki said this event will not impact the country’s vaccine supplies.
An FDA inspection report cited that Emergent did not adequately train some employees, testing procedures were not followed, and measures to “prevent contamination or mixups” were deficient.
Emergent has since received $23 million from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to purchase more vaccine manufacturing equipment.
Nevertheless, Emergent has not fully explained how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was contaminated.
In a statement released, following the events, Emergent said there are “rigorous quality checks” at their Bayview facility, but that a “single batch of drug substance was identified that did not meet specifications and our rigorous quality standards. We isolated this batch and it will be disposed of properly. Importantly, the quality control systems worked as designed to detect and isolate this single batch. Discarding a batch of bulk drug substance, while disappointing, does occasionally happen during vaccine manufacturing, which is a complex and multi-step biological process.”
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