Emergent mourns passing of founder and former CEO El-Hibri just one month after his retirement

The founder and former chief of national defense-minded contract manufacturer Emergent BioSolutions has passed away.

Late last month, 64-year-old Fuad El-Hibri died peacefully at his home among family and loved ones, Emergent said in a recent release. “Our hearts go out to his wife, Nancy, his children and grandchildren, and friends,” the company added.

A family representative told The New York Times El-Hibri’s death was from pancreatic cancer.

El-Hibri retired as Emergent’s executive chairman on April 1 after 23 years at the CDMO, which debuted in 1998 under the name BioPort.

Emergent began its life equipped with a single product—the anthrax vaccine BioThrax—before going public in 2006. The company has carved out a niche countering public health threats, from anthrax, smallpox and botulism to chemical warfare agents, opioids and COVID-19.

In a statement earlier this year, El-Hibri called the creation and leadership of Emergent the honor of his life. He served as chief executive officer for 14 years before passing the torch in 2012.

El-Hibri played a key role in growing Emergent’s war chest of marketed and procured countermeasures, the company said.

Aside from its anthrax vaccine, the manufacturer is well known for its overdose reversal drug Narcan (naloxone), plus its long-time work with the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, Emergent became something of a household name in 2020, when it threw its weight behind the COVID-19 fight, pledging to help make Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s vaccines.

A highly-public cross-contamination incident in 2021 ultimately ended Emergent’s pandemic manufacturing deal with the feds.

Despite the setback, the company delivered more than 120 million COVID-19 vaccine “dose equivalents,” thanks to El-Hibri’s direction, Emergent said. Further, the manufacturer “built a trusted partnership with the U.S. government, including supplying anthrax and smallpox vaccines for the military and inventory for U.S. biodefence.”

The company received a nearly $400 million BARDA contract in October to supply its anthrax vaccine to the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile over 18 months, Emergent said in a securities filing last year.

El-Hibri’s manufacturing vision for complex biologics bred the CDMO’s “full suite” of development services, drug substance and drug product manufacturing and packaging, Emergent added in its release.

El-Hibri was born in Hildesheim, Germany, to Elizabeth and Ibrahim El-Hibri, The New York Times said. He grew up in Lebanon and Germany and earned an economics degree from Stanford University in 1980. El-Hibri also had a public and private management master’s from the Yale School of Management.