Emergent lands another big money contract from BARDA for anthrax
After negative feedback from the FDA, the loss of business with AstraZeneca and the disruption to the Covid-19 supply chain, the US government has not lost faith in Emergent BioSolutions.
Emergent has landed a contract worth nearly $400 million from BARDA to manufacture its anthrax vaccine for the national stockpile for the next 18 months.
The news was revealed as a part of the company’s Form 8-K filing with the SEC.
AV7909 is a combination of BioThrax and CPG 7909, a synthetic short DNA sequence that has been proven to be an effective vaccine adjuvant that increases the speed of immune response. Emergent bought the license for the vaccine in 1998 from the state of Michigan, and over time, increased the price per dose sixfold.
“Our commitment to helping provide solutions to public health threats, both naturally occurring and manmade, has never been stronger,” the company said in a statement emailed to Endpoints News Friday. “We continue to support the government’s strategies to protect Americans from unthinkable diseases and remain focused on fulfilling our role in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The company has long played a role in the national vaccine stockpile. It’s been the government’s sole provider of anthrax vaccines, and over the last 10 years, acquired biodefense competitors, smallpox treatments and other drugs with seemingly the sole purpose of gearing up to provide for government contracts.
In 2020, the US government paid Emergent $626 million for doses of an anthrax vaccine and smallpox vaccine, among other products, helping deprive the government of money to buy the supplies the US needed for the pandemic. A New York Times investigation revealed that the government increased the order of BioThrax by $100 million when the company said it needed more sales to stay in business in 2016.
The company’s relationship with the US government helped land it a $628 million contract to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines with no competitive bidding. Emergent has been under a BARDA contract since 2012 and was given about $542.7 million for production of Covid-19 vaccine candidates through 2021, and $85.5 million to expand its viral and non-viral drug product fill/finish capacity in Baltimore Camden and Rockville.
That deal came under immense scrutiny when quality control officials for J&J discovered that drug substance from AstraZeneca’s vaccine had contaminated J&J batches, leading the company’s Baltimore plant to cease operations while it was investigated and quarantine millions of doses, many of which had to be thrown out.
Earlier this week, the FDA cleared another batch of the J&J jab to be distributed for use. That marks the 12th quarantined batch given the OK, though Emergent has since lost its business with AstraZeneca.
The deal comes just days after the PREPARE Act of 2021 was introduced in the US House, which would create a national stockpile of active pharmaceutical ingredients in an attempt at preventing supply chain shortages.