Feds scrap deal with company that made contaminated J&J COVID vaccine

FAN Editor

Washington — The federal government has canceled a $600 million deal with Emergent BioSolutions, a Maryland-based vaccine manufacturer with facilities in Baltimore that were found to have produced millions of contaminated Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses this spring.

Emergent disclosed the development Thursday in a filing ahead of releasing its latest earnings report.

Emergent said it will forgo about $180 million due to the contract’s termination.

The company said the decision to end the contract was mutual, adding that it will still make the J&J vaccine under a separate pact.

Emergent BioSolutions played a role in the Trump administration’s effort to speed up vaccine development and distribution. But after winning a contract from the previous administration, Emergent quickly ran into production problems.

In March, ingredients intended for use in producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shots contaminated 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The problems with the vaccines caused a months-long delay in production.

After that, the Biden administration put Johnson & Johnson in direct control of vaccine production there.

In June, the Food and Drug Administration decided to discard at least another 60 million additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine produced at the plant.

The lapses at the Bayview factory in Baltimore hampered J&J’s efforts to be a major player in vaccinating people, particularly in remote areas and poor countries. It only requires one dose and standard refrigeration and it’s also cheaper than some other vaccines.

But there have been problems with the Emergent plant.

The FDA repeatedly cited Emergent in the past for problems such as poorly trained employees, cracked vials and problems managing mold and other contamination around one of its facilities, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

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