After Emergent's rise and fall, CEO Robert Kramer announces retirement

Retiring from Emergent BioSolutions in 2010 didn’t take for Robert Kramer. He was wooed back to the company a year later and eventually became the contract manufacturer’s president, CEO and a member of its board.

Kramer has done it again, announcing his retirement, effective immediately. Kramer has stepped down from all his posts and will be replaced as CEO on an interim basis by Haywood Miller, the managing director of Berkeley Research Group, who has served as an adviser to the company over the last several months.

While Kramer was instrumental in the rapid rise of the 25-year-old CDMO, he also came under fire for the company’s high-profile missteps in manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines for Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

In 2021, Kramer also became the subject of a congressional investigation for selling more than $10 million of stock in the Maryland-based company before reports that Emergent had to discard 15 million vaccine doses over an ingredient mix-up and before the company’s share price plummeted.

In the first five months of the pandemic—as Emergent’s role as a major manufacturer of COVID vaccines became evident—the value of shares in the company rose from less than $50 to more than $133. Tuesday, the company’s shares were priced at $8.81.

Kramer made his mark by winning contracts to produce vital products for government preparedness. In addition to huge deals to manufacture COVID shots, Emergent delivered agents to defend against anthrax, smallpox and Ebola. The company also grew through advancing clinical programs and executing key acquisitions.

“Under Bob’s leadership, the company has grown from a single location and a single product to a global leader in protecting people against public health crises,” Zsolt Harsanyi, Ph.D, Emergent’s chairman, said in a release.

In 2018, the year before Kramer took over as CEO, its revenue was $782 million. By 2021, it had risen to $1.8 billion. In May, the company said it expects revenue for this year to fall between $1.1 billion and $1.2 billion.

Emergent will search for a new CEO within and outside of the company, it said, with Kramer staying on as an adviser until Aug. 1.

“2023 is a year of transformation for Emergent. We have delivered on a number of key objectives over the first half of the year, including the sale of our travel health business, amending and extending our credit facility and securing a contract extension from the U.S. government for procurement of ACAM2000 to address the threat of smallpox,” Harsanyi said in the release. “Now is the right time to pivot to the next phase of this transformation.”