J&J sews up 5 years of coronavirus vaccine supply in $480M-plus deal with Emergent

J&J
Johnson & Johnson and Emergent signed an initial manufacturing tie-up in April. (Johnson & Johnson)

Johnson & Johnson, like all drugmakers in the COVID-19 vaccine race, is hoping to cobble together enough manufacturing capacity to rapidly scale production of its shot hopeful. Now, to the tune of nearly half a billion dollars, J&J is ready to put its money where its mouth is.

J&J and Maryland-based CDMO Emergent BioSolutions inked a five-year work order worth at least $480 million to help produce the New Jersey-based drugmaker's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Emergent said in a release.

Emergent will provide "large-scale" drug substance manufacturing for J&J's recombinant DNA shot beginning in 2021, starting with a $480 million order for the first two years of the deal. For the final three years, the partners will use a "flexible capacity deployment model" to provide annual batches as needed, Emergent said.

Sept. 15-17,2020

Cytiva Virtual Event: Tapas & Tech Talks Copy - Strategies for robust and scalable

Strategies for robust and scalable processes: from research through late-stage trials
(with Cytiva and IQVIA)

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson sets stage for COVID-19 shot rollout with 'first in a series' manufacturing deal

The contract comes as J&J gears up to start human testing of its candidate, Ad26.COV2-S, later this month in a phase 1/2a trial. And it follows Emergent and J&J's earlier pact to reserve manufacturing space for J&J's shot while initiating the tech transfer to begin a rapid scale-up.

As the initial step in what was pitched as the "first in a series" of manufacturing deals, J&J tapped Emergent to help boost production of its shot, which the company hoped at the time to move into phase 1 trials in September.

As part of the deal, J&J pledged to expand its own capacity for producing the vaccine with Emergent sharing its "molecule-to-market" manufacturing know-how. Emergent also reserved capacity at its Bayview Baltimore facility to support a potential commercial rollout of J&J's shot beginning as early as 2021, should it nab an approval.

J&J previously earmarked its Leiden, Netherlands facility for clinical vaccine production and planned to begin manufacturing the vaccine "at-risk" to support human trials.

RELATED: J&J inks 2nd manufacturing deal to boost capacity for COVID-19 vaccine

Within days of that initial deal with Emergent, J&J signed a similar agreement with New Jersey-based CDMO Catalent to reserve space at its Bloomington, Indiana, facility for large-scale manufacturing.

Catalent pledged to ramp up production at the 875,000-square-foot Bloomington facility and planned to hire an additional 300 workers at the plant starting in July with the goal of reaching a 24/7 manufacturing schedule by January.

For Emergent, the J&J work order continues a run of deals for the Maryland-based CDMO as it looks to cement its place as the manufacturer of choice in the COVID-19 vaccine race.

RELATED: AstraZeneca, Emergent BioSolutions sign $87M deal to produce U.S. supply of COVID-19 vaccine

In early June, Emergent and British drugmaker AstraZeneca inked an $87 million deal to manufacture doses of the University of Oxford's adenovirus-based COVID-19 shot for U.S. supply.

As part of the agreement, Emergent pledged to reserve large-scale manufacturing capacity for Oxford's vaccine candidate, AZD1222, at the Baltimore Bayview facility through 2020. The company also signed on to aid AstraZeneca's goal of producing more than 2 billion shots per year by 2021, Emergent said.

That deal came just days after Emergent signed a $628 million pact with the HHS' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to scale production of targeted COVID-19 vaccines to make "tens to hundreds of millions" of doses available through 2021, CEO Robert Kramer said.

The government agreed to shell out $542.7 million to reserve bulk manufacturing capacity at the Baltimore Bayview site, which was constructed as part of a BARDA pandemic preparedness contract signed in 2012. The remaining $85.5 million would be spent expanding fill/finish capacity at two Emergent plants at Camden in Baltimore and Rockville, Maryland.

Suggested Articles

WuXi Biologics has tapped its former Chinese facility head as CEO of its still-in-the-works vaccines CDMO unit in Ireland.

After a slow start, Teva's Ajovy launch is improving following the FDA approval for an autoinjector.

Lupin pulled one lot of lisinopril after finding the wrong tablets in some bottles. Sun Pharma yanked clonazepam bottles on contamination fears.