Emergent BioSolutions, a Gaithersburg-based biotech company, announced Tuesday that it will be laying off approximately 400 workers across all areas of the company, including at its Rockville facility.
In a news release, Emergent said the layoffs are part of efforts to improve the company’s financial position and is expected to improve operational efficiency and save $100 million annually. Emergent said it will shift focus away from contract drug manufacturing and development and towards its core products such as Narcan nasal spray and other medical countermeasures. Narcan reverses opioid overdoses.
“Our focus is in the areas in which we are uniquely equipped to have a positive impact,” Paul Williams, Emergent senior vice president of products, said in the release. “We remain committed to partnering with the U.S. and allied governments to help address public health threats including anthrax, smallpox, and Ebola while also successfully increasing access to Narcan Nasal Spray as an over-the-counter treatment to help address America’s opioid overdose epidemic and give people in crisis a second chance.”
There are over 120 employees at the Rockville facility, according to Emergent’s website. Emergent did not immediately respond to MoCo360’s emails and phone calls requesting clarification on the number of workers laid off at the Rockville facility.
Emergent’s Rockville facility produces vaccines and other therapeutics on a clinical and commercial scale. The facility is also part of the company’s Bioservices division, home to the Groninger Integra, a high-speed vial filling line, according to Emergent’s website. Within the division, Emergent collaborates with biopharmaceutical companies to manufacture their products.
In 2020, the facility entered into a five-year manufacturing services agreement with Johnson & Johnson’s lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
Emergent’s COVID vaccine production in Baltimore was deeply troubled, leading to the destruction of about 400 million doses, according to a congressional report last year.
Bob Kramer, CEO since 2019, announced in June of this year that he was retiring.
Layoffs will also hit Emergent’s Bayview facility in Baltimore and another facility in Canton, Massachusetts. But in response to a growing demand for Narcan, production will be maintained at the Bayview and Canton facilities to “ramp up production,” according to the release.
“This will better align Emergent’s businesses with a focus on our core products and delivering for the needs of our customers,” said interim Chief Executive Officer Haywood Miller. “It will provide us with flexibility to respond to future customer demand while responsibly maintaining manufacturing infrastructure deemed critical to respond to public health threats.”
Emergent said its launch of the over-the-counter Narcan nasal spray is still on track for late this summer.