Sole provider of anthrax vaccine in U.S. may cut jobs at Michigan plant

Anthrax bacteria
A photomicrograph of bacillus anthracis bacteria

Emergent BioSolutions, the only anthrax vaccine manufacturer in the U.S., said it may soon reduce the workforce at its facility in Lansing, MI, where the company produces BioThrax.

The Gaithersburg, MD-based company told the Lansing State Journal that the current contract to produce the anthrax vaccine for the federal government is set to expire at the end of September.

A new contract to manufacture the antidote is currently under negotiation.

Additionally, Emergent is waiting for FDA approval to begin producing the vaccine in a building that has been outfitted with new manufacturing processes involving increased levels of automation that requires fewer workers, Mark Alley, a company spokesman, told the newspaper.

The company expects the government to require fewer doses to be produced, and with upgrades and automation at the new plant fewer workers will be needed.

There are 381 employees at the plant now, down from 425 in 2014, the company said. The average salary at the facility is about $65,000.

How many jobs are ultimately eliminated will depend on a "combination of factors,” Alley said.

Last month, the company announced it was awarded a contract worth up to $12.9 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an HHS arm, to prepare a Zika vaccine for Phase I trial.

Over the 30-month contract, Emergent Biosolutions will adopt technology to produce three cGMP lots of an undisclosed BARDA-provided Zika vaccine candidate for an early human trial. 

- check out the State Journal article

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