Pfizer plans to farm out manufacturing for some of its drugs to make way for COVID-19 vaccine

Pfizer has dedicated enormous resources to churning out hundreds of millions of doses of a possible COVID-19 vaccine. But that massive effort requires a trade-off: Pfizer will have a hard time meeting production goals for its existing meds and will look to its contractor network to help keep up. 

Pfizer plans to outsource production of some of its drug portfolio to make way for a rapidly growing vaccine manufacturing effort, the company said Monday.

The drugmaker will lean on its 200-strong network of contractors as part of a plan to "build a robust U.S.-based supply chain as well as one based in Europe," a Pfizer spokesperson said.

Pfizer said it came to the outsourcing decision after determining that its COVID-19 shot rollout would heavily tax its ability to meet production goals, including its current 1.5 billion doses of sterile meds each year. 

"We determined that producing the volume of doses that we have committed to, in addition to our existing medicines and vaccines, will make significant demands on our network," the spokesperson said.

Pfizer's contracting network includes major players Lonza, Catalent and Thermo Fisher Scientific, among others, Pfizer's head of global supply Mike McDermott told Reuters last week. The drugmaker didn't specify which of its contractors would be tapped in the effort, Reuters said. 

The outlet said the outsourcing push would primarily target Pfizer's sterile drugs and vaccine portfolios. 

In parallel with its outsourcing push, Pfizer is also working to build up inventory for its drugs before manufacturing of the potential vaccine launches at scale. 

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