Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Emergent BioSolutions to be Called to Account by Congress on May 19

A few short months ago, Emergent Biosolutions was riding high.  Their stock was at $125/share.  They were a $7 billion dollar company.  They were the epitome of how to turn failure into success:

  • never bringing a product they created to market  
  • selling almost exclusively to the government; 
  • selling single-source products, which meant no-bid contracts; 
  • making products that were mostly stockpiled, with a short expiration period, so they had to continuously re-supply the buyer;
  • selling products that were stockpiled but never used, the quality of the stockpiled products could be very low;
  • asking the government for bailouts, and getting them, when manufacturing problems were identified;
  • even when thousands of soldiers were sickened by their anthrax and smallpox vaccines, the Defense Department covered up for the company;
  • most of their products were intended for pandemics or bioterrorism, and were thus "covered countermeasures"--which meant they fell under a government PREP Act near-total liability shield;
  • because the only way liability could be assigned to the company was by proving "willful misconduct," i.e., knowing of a product's faults but selling it anyway, the company was incentivized not to properly test its products.  By avoiding proper testing, the company could not be accused of knowing about their products' flaws;
  • Emergent BioSolutions practically cornered the market on insider, crony deals--which is saying quite a lot when you are talking about the pharmaceutical industry
Naturally this company flubbed its Covid vaccine manufacturing.  The company's M.O. is to screw up the manufacuring of a single-source, necessary product, then cry poor and get the government to bail them out.

Now Congress is paying attention.  The CEO Robert Kramer and Board Chairman/majority owner Fuad el Hibri have been asked to pony up documents and appear for questioning on May 19.  Hopefully Congress will review the prior investigation of this company, performed by the GAO and Government Reform Committee in 1999-2000.  There is quite a lot of history, and Fuad el-Hibri and Robert Kramer have been involved with numerous questionable deals since the company was formed in 1998.  Hopefully the Congress will also look into the acquisition of Narcan nasal spray (an opioid antidote) by Emergent, and the massive increase in Narcan purchases by public agencies after EBS acquired the product.

Given the 23 year history of malfeasance of this company (previously named Bioport), what probably needs to happen is that it should be barred from federal and state contracting in future.

Here is today's MSNBC article talking about this latest twist in the saga of Emergent BioSolutions, the cardboard "powerhouse" that has contracts to produce nine different medical products in response to the Covid pandemic. Nine products that might be injected into any of us. 

1 comment:

Rebecca S said...

I hope there will be accountability for the experimental vaccine that has caused and/or greatly contributed to Gulf War Illness. I'm 53. People in my generation were deployed to Desert Storm. I knew three people deployed to Operation Desert Shield (1990) and Operation Desert Storm (1991) who became chronically ill during that war or very shortly after they returned to the US. I've been in touch with two of these veterans more recently. They are still chronically ill and have been for their entire adult lives. They were young men in top physical condition when they left for the Gulf in 1990-91, which was the time they received the vaccines. Since then, they've had ongoing debilitating health problems. It is going on 30 years now. Their health problems caused them extreme financial stress and ended their careers. They and other Gulf War vets have had the worst time trying to get proper treatment and disability for their injuries. Many of them are still fighting for approval of disability for GWI.

On a related topic, I highly recommend people download and read the 1994 Riegle Report. There is a chapter which details the chemical and biological weapons agents sold to Iraq by US companies until 1989 (right before Operation Desert Shield in 1990). Included in the report are receipts for these sales from the Department of Commerce. We should all be aware of this important part of our history.

Thanks for what you do. Rebecca S