White House knew 2 weeks ago that plant producing J&J vaccine had problems, Politico says

Senior Biden administration health officials knew two weeks ago that production problems at Emergent BioSolutions' manufacturing plant in Baltimore could delay the delivery of a significant number of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccines, three senior administration officials told Politico March 31. 

Two senior officials told the publication that it became clear early in March that there were significant problems at the Baltimore plant, where a worker error led to 15 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses being ruined. A third senior official told Politico that HHS found out last week about the 15 million ruined doses. 

Emergent BioSolutions has contracted with Johnson & Johnson to help produce its shot, but the incident caused the FDA to delay approving Emergent. 

"It was no secret that Emergent did not have a deep bench of pharmaceutical manufacturing experts," an official told Politico.

The federal government expects the manufacturing plant problems will delay future shipments of Johnson & Johnson's vaccines and that distribution of the doses to states will be patchy for the next several weeks, the officials told Politico

One official told the publication Johnson & Johnson should still be able to deliver the doses it promised under its contract with the U.S. by the end of April. One official said it's unclear if the drugmaker will be able to meet its June target. 

The Biden administration has asked Johnson & Johnson to directly supervise Emergent's vaccine production going forward, Politico reported. Getting the Baltimore facility up to regulatory standards could take days or weeks, one official told the publication. 

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