Executives from a company blamed for mishaps in the production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will testify next week before a House panel tracking the coronavirus response, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn said Wednesday.
Mr. Clyburn, who chairs the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, said Emergent BioSolutions President Robert Kramer and Fuad El-Hibri, the company’s executive chairman, will appear on May 19.
Emergent hit the headlines in March after workers at a Baltimore plant conflated ingredients of the J&J vaccine and a version from AstraZeneca, which also uses an adenovirus-vector but is not identical. The company’s also been the subject of unflattering inspection reports from the Food and Drug Administration.
The Biden administration put J&J in charge of the Baltimore plant as it tries to restore a steady supply of the J&J vaccine and run checks on the AstraZeneca doses that it wants to send to other countries.
“The hearing will examine how Emergent’s failure to maintain its manufacturing facilities, train its staff and comply with Food and Drug Administration standards led to the destruction of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines, including up to 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and how these failures may impact vaccination efforts,” Mr. Clyburn, of South Carolina, said.
Democrats also want to investigate COVID-19 contracts that were awarded to Emergent during the Trump administration and whether political connections played a role.
Mr. Kramer defended his company in a Baltimore Sun op-ed last month, saying it is striving to restore the U.S. to normalcy, lobbies the government like any other company and worked well with the Trump and Biden teams alike — despite the notable “setback” it suffered in March.
“A lot of people worked incredibly hard to make sure we are spending this year’s Fourth of July together rather than waiting for 2022. We have moved at a speed previously unknown and with amazing results,” he wrote. “Knowing our team, I wouldn’t have said it was impossible a year ago, but I also would’ve acknowledged it’s an enormous challenge. Our Emergent team is strong. Our private-public partnerships and collaborations are strong. Heck, our competitors are strong. Marylanders can be proud of Emergent and the role our employees have played in helping end this pandemic.”