By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Sharon LaFraniere
The chief executive of Emergent BioSolutions, whose Baltimore plant ruined millions of coronavirus vaccine doses, disclosed for the first time on Wednesday that more than 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine are now on hold as regulators check them for potential contamination, and apologized to members of Congress.
“No one is more disappointed than we are that we had to suspend our 24/7 manufacturing of new vaccine,” the chief executive, Robert G. Kramer, told members of a House subcommittee that is investigating his firm, adding, “I apologize for the failure of our controls.”
Mr. Kramer’s appearance before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis marked the first time that company executives have publicly defended Emergent amid continuing questions about the firm’s manufacturing capability and whether it has leveraged its connections in Washington to win lucrative government contracts.
In more than three hours of testimony, Mr. Kramer acknowledged unsanitary conditions, including mold, at the Baltimore plant; conceded that Johnson & Johnson — not Emergent — had discovered the potential contamination; and fended off aggressive questions from House Democrats about his stock sales and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses for top company executives last year.
Under aggressive questioning by House Democrats, he said he expects the Baltimore plant, which was forced to halt operation a month ago after contamination spoiled the equivalent of 15 million doses, to resume production “in a matter of days.” He said he took “very seriously” a recent Food and Drug Administration inspection showing unsanitary conditions — including mold — in the plant, and conceded that quality tests by Johnson & Johnson, not Emergent, had identified the contamination that forced Emergent to discard so many doses.
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