Emergent CDMO biz ‘thriving’ in COVID-19 environment

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the growing mammalian and viral vaccines market and placed Emergent in a “leading position” in the CDMO space, says CEO Bob Kramer.

The fourth quarter 2020 produced record revenues for Emergent BioSolutions, with the firm reporting sales of $583 million, up 62% on the year prior. For the full year, sales tallied $1.56 billion, up 41% on 2019.

While Emergent has its own product line (contributing $340 million in the quarter, with its smallpox vaccine ACAM2000 pulling in $129 million itself) , the firm said its contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) business played a substantial role in its top line, with growth coming primarily from services related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Image: iStock/AndreyPopov

According to CEO Bob Kramer, Emergent has “eight and counting” CDMO COVID-19 partnerships, most notably supporting AstraZeneca’s, Novavax’s, and Johnson & Johnson’s commercialized and late-stage vaccine efforts. On the monoclonal antibody front, Emergent was most recently announced as a CDMO partner for Humanigen’s Phase III COVID-19 candidate lenzilumab.

“This pandemic has highlighted the growing mammalian and viral vaccines market and shown that service providers must have durable, scalable and compliant manufacturing infrastructures. Emergent has been able to thrive in this environment,” Kramer told investors on a conference call last week.

As such, the firm, which only set up a third-party services unit four years ago, has “carved out a leading position as a Tier 1 Biologics CDMO organization,” he said.

“Owning and controlling our own manufacturing capacity and capabilities has always been a critical strategic importance to us, particularly for biologics. We – unlike most standalone CDMO’s – bring the expertise from manufacturing and handling some of the most complex biologic products in the world, and the experience of having to operate in challenging, rapid response situations in partnership with the US government.”

The firm had a long-standing partnership with the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) before the novel coronavirus, and the relationship has been further strengthened during the pandemic.

“Unlike most imbedded CDMO’s, this is now a utilization play, rather it’s a strategic set of offerings across three service pillars and five platform technologies and we have specifically built a service business with that in mind.”