FDA of­fers scathing re­view of Emer­gent plan­t's san­i­tary con­di­tions, em­ploy­ee train­ing af­ter halt­ing pro­duc­tion

The FDA wrapped up its in­spec­tion of Emer­gent’s trou­bled vac­cine man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Bal­ti­more on Tues­day, af­ter halt­ing pro­duc­tion there on Mon­day. By Wednes­day morn­ing, the agency al­ready re­leased a se­ries of scathing ob­ser­va­tions on the cross con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, san­i­tary is­sues and lack of staff train­ing that caused the con­tract man­u­fac­tur­er to dis­pose of mil­lions of As­traZeneca and J&J vac­cine dos­es.

The first of nine ob­ser­va­tions in the Form 483, fol­low­ing a nine-day in­spec­tion, deals with the fact that Emer­gent failed to thor­ough­ly in­ves­ti­gate the vac­cine drug sub­stance mix-up that caused the firm to throw away 15 mil­lion dos­es of the J&J vac­cine.

“There is no as­sur­ance that oth­er batch­es have not been sub­ject to cross-con­t­a­m­i­na­tion,” the FDA writes.

The sec­ond ob­ser­va­tion deals with the fact that the fa­cil­i­ty is filthy.

In ad­di­tion to chip­ping paint on the walls and floors that mean the sur­faces can­not be ad­e­quate­ly cleaned, FDA notes that waste gen­er­at­ed dur­ing the man­u­fac­ture of vac­cine drug sub­stance is not de­con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed be­fore be­ing trans­port­ed through the ware­house and ad­ja­cent ar­eas.

Ac­cord­ing to se­cu­ri­ty cam­era footage, em­ploy­ees in one of the man­u­fac­tur­ing ar­eas in Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary were “ob­served throw­ing un­sealed bags of spe­cial med­ical waste in­to the ser­vice el­e­va­tor ac­cess­ing the ware­house cor­ri­dor,” the 483 notes. The third ob­ser­va­tion al­so raised con­cerns about the size of the fa­cil­i­ty, which was over­crowd­ed with ma­te­ri­als read­ied to be man­u­fac­tured.

Em­ploy­ees were al­so ob­served in Feb­ru­ary and as re­cent­ly as mid-April drag­ging un­sealed bags of med­ical waste from one man­u­fac­tur­ing area across the floor to the ware­house, as well as re­mov­ing pro­tec­tive gar­ments on­to the ware­house floor where raw ma­te­ri­als were be­ing read­ied for man­u­fac­ture.

The fifth and sixth ob­ser­va­tions note that Emer­gent did not prop­er­ly han­dle and store vi­ral bulk drug sub­stances to pre­vent cross con­t­a­m­i­na­tion and did not have prop­er pro­ce­dures for de­con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing waste.

Emer­gent’s fail­ure to train em­ploy­ees is doc­u­ment­ed in the sev­enth ob­ser­va­tion, which notes per­son­nel in­volved in the man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions en­tered in­to the man­u­fac­tur­ing area while pro­cess­ing of some bulk drug sub­stance was tak­ing place, and then en­tered oth­er op­er­a­tional rooms with­out prop­er­ly ad­her­ing to gown­ing pro­ce­dures.

“Per­son­nel in­volved in man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions dragged non-dis­in­fect­ed and non-de­con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed spe­cial med­ical waste” from one man­u­fac­tur­ing area across the ware­house cor­ri­dor, FDA not­ed.

FDA said in a state­ment Wednes­day, “At the agency’s re­quest, Emer­gent BioSo­lu­tions has agreed to pause new pro­duc­tion while it works with the FDA to re­solve po­ten­tial qual­i­ty is­sues. For the vac­cines al­ready man­u­fac­tured, the prod­ucts will un­der­go ad­di­tion­al test­ing and will be thor­ough­ly eval­u­at­ed to en­sure their qual­i­ty be­fore any po­ten­tial dis­tri­b­u­tion.”

The agency raised sim­i­lar con­cerns with the plant, fol­low­ing an in­spec­tion in April 2020.

Emer­gent said in a state­ment that it’s com­mit­ted to “work­ing with the FDA and John­son & John­son to quick­ly re­solve the is­sues iden­ti­fied.”

Mov­ing Out of the Clin­ic with Dig­i­tal Tools: Mo­bile Spirom­e­try Dur­ing COVID-19 & Be­yond

An important technology in assessing lung function, spirometry offers crucial data for the diagnosis and monitoring of pulmonary system diseases, as well as the ongoing measurement of treatment efficacy. But trends in the healthcare industry and new challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic are causing professionals in clinical practice and research to reevaluate spirometry’s deployment methods and best practices.

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Sanofi, Glax­o­SmithK­line jump back in­to the PhI­II race for a Covid vac­cine — as the win­ners con­gre­gate be­hind the fin­ish line

Sanofi got out early in the race to develop a vaccine using more of a traditional approach, then derailed late last year as their candidate failed to work in older people. Now, after likely missing the bus for the bulk of the world’s affluent nations, they’re back from that embarrassing collapse with a second attempt using GSK’s adjuvant that may get them back on track — with a potential Q4 launch that the rest of the world will be paying close attention to.

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SCO­TUS de­clines to re­view En­brel biosim­i­lar case, tee­ing up 30+ years of ex­clu­siv­i­ty and $20B more for Am­gen’s block­buster

As the House Oversight Committee is set to grill AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez on Tuesday over tactics to block competition for its best-selling drug of all time, another decision on Capitol Hill on Monday opened the door for billions more in Amgen profits over the next eight years.

The Supreme Court on Monday denied Novartis subsidiary Sandoz’s petition to review a Federal Circuit’s July 2020 decision concerning its biosimilar Erelzi (etanercept-szzs), which FDA approved in 2016 as a biosimilar to Amgen’s Enbrel (etanercept). Samsung’s Enbrel biosimilar Eticovo also won approval in 2019 and remains sidelined.

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How to man­u­fac­ture Covid-19 vac­cines with­out the help of J&J, Pfiz­er or Mod­er­na? Bi­ol­yse sees the dif­fi­cul­ties up close

When Biolyse, an Ontario-based manufacturer of sterile injectables, forged a deal with Bolivia last week to manufacture up to 50 million J&J Covid-19 vaccine doses, the agreement kicked off what will prove to be a test case for how difficult the system of compulsory licenses is to navigate.

The first problem: When Biolyse asked J&J, via a March letter, to license its Covid-19 vaccine, manufacture it in Canada and pay 5% royalties on shipments to needy, low-income countries, J&J rejected the offer, refusing to negotiate. J&J also did not respond to a request for comment.

Tim Mayleben (L) and Sheldon Koenig (Esperion)

On the heels of a sting­ing Q1 set­back, Es­pe­ri­on's long­time cham­pi­on is ex­it­ing the helm and turn­ing the wheel over to a mar­ket­ing pro

Just days after getting stung by criticism from a badly disappointed group of analysts, there’s a big change happening today at the helm of Esperion $ESPR.

Longtime CEO Tim Mayleben, who championed the company for 9 years from early clinical through a lengthy late-stage drive to successfully get their cholesterol drug approved for a significant niche of patients in the US, is out of the C suite, effective immediately. Sheldon Koenig — hired at the end of 2020 with a resume replete with Big Pharma CV sales experience —  is stepping into his place, promising to right a badly listing commercial ship that’s been battered by market forces.

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No­var­tis' En­tresto takes its 2nd fail­ure of the week­end at ACC, show­ing no ben­e­fit in most dire heart fail­ure pa­tients

Novartis’ Entresto started the ACC weekend off rough with a trial flop in heart attack patients, slowing the drug’s push into earlier patients. Now, an NIH-sponsored study is casting doubt on Entresto’s use in the most severe heart failure patients, another black mark on the increasingly controversial drug’s record.

Entresto, a combination of sacubitril and valsartan, could not beat out valsartan alone in an outcomes head-to-head for severe heart failure patients with a reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), according to data presented Monday at the virtual American College of Cardiology meeting.

Matt Gline (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy

In­sid­er ac­count of Roivan­t's SPAC deal — and that $7.3B val­u­a­tion — re­veals a few se­crets as Matt Gline po­si­tions the com­pa­ny as the new ‘Big Phar­ma’

It was Oct. 7, 2020, and Matt Gline wasn’t wasting any time.

The CEO of Roivant had word that KKR vet Jim Momtazee’s SPAC had priced late the night before, triggering a green light for anyone interested in pursuing a big check for future operations and riding the financial instrument to Nasdaq. So he wrote a quick email congratulating Momtazee, whom he knew, for the launch.

Oh, and maybe Momtazee would like to schedule something with Gline and his executive chairman, Roivant founder Vivek Ramaswamy, to chat about Roivant and its business?

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$DNA is once again on NYSE; FDA clears Soliris chal­lenger for the mar­ket; Flag­ship’s think­ing big again with eR­NA; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

I still remember the uncertainty in the air last year when nobody was sure whether ASCO would cancel their in-person meeting. But it’s now back again for the second virtual conference, and Endpoints News is here for it. Check out our 2-day event reviewing the landscape of cancer R&D and send news our way.

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John­son & John­son do­nates Ebo­la vac­cine amid new out­break; Ji Xing promis­es more than $127M for Mile­stone's nasal spray for rapid heart rate

As Johnson & Johnson continues to roll out its Covid-19 shot, the company is also focused on another vaccine.

J&J is donating up to 200,000 doses of its Ebola vaccine regimen developed with Bavarian Nordic to help health authorities deal with a new outbreak in Sierra Leone. The regimen, Zabdeno and Mvabea, was granted prequalification by the WHO in April, which will help accelerate its registration in countries where Ebola is a threat.