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Johnson & Johnson severs ties with Emergent Biosolutions over more trashed COVID vaccines

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement Thursday that no doses produced at Emergent Biosolutions site since the factory restarted have reached the market and it was ending its agreement with Emergent. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

WASHINGTON — Johnson & Johnson announced it is severing ties with Gaithersburg-based Emergent Solutions after the pharmaceutical company was forced to destroy another 135 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine made at Emergent’s troubled Baltimore production plant because of quality issues.

Congressional panel leaders announced the action Thursday, which follows a report in May that detailed how more than 400 million vaccine doses made at the plant had to be trashed. The doses more recently slated for destruction were made between August 2021 and February, the House members said.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement Thursday that no doses produced at the site since the factory restarted have reached the market.

The doses had been set aside after they were made. The panel said J&J told it that a batch of the shots failed inspection, which rendered all of them unusable.

The factory’s problems have hurt vaccinations in areas of the world where vaccines are still in short supply, said U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and COVID-19 subcommittee chairman.

Emergent said it has been “open and forthcoming” about the factory’s challenges. It noted that J&J took control of the plant after problems first emerged and that J&J was in charge until manufacturing stopped there earlier this year.

The problem-plagued factory was initially shut down by the Food and Drug Administration in early 2021 due to contamination. The government then allowed production to resume in August 2021.

J&J’s vaccine was one of three initially authorized by U.S. regulators more than a year ago to protect against COVID-19. But the government has since strictly limited who can receive the shot due to a small risk of rare but serious blood clots.