The Catalan pharmaceutical company Reig Jofre has not yet begun to produce doses of the Janssen vaccine despite the fact that it was expected to do so from mid-June. The Sant Joan Despí laboratory, which has reserved 80% of the capacity of its new plant for filling the vials, is currently aware of the manufacturing problems that Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has had. Johnson, in the United States, linked to the already known delay in a Dutch plant due to its expansion.
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The Catalan firm has confirmed to elDiario.es that it has not been able to start production as planned, although it has not offered further details. Nor if they have a new calendar today.
“What is planned to be done at the Reig Jofre plant depends on the capacity to manufacture the raw material,” explain sources from the Ministry of Health. And they point from the start to the human error that was detected in a factory in Baltimore, in the United States, and that forced the authorities to withdraw up to 60 million doses of the vaccine at the beginning of the month.
The production of the active ingredient, the raw material, in this North American factory had to serve to cover the delays that were already announced due to the expansion of the Leiden plant in the Netherlands. The objective of this reform was to improve the production capacity of the serum, but in turn caused the delay in the first committed deliveries. The European Union took it for granted that the delivery of 55 million doses agreed for the second quarter, which has now ended, would not be fulfilled.
In the case of Reig Jofre, it has been harmed by being practically the final part of the production gear of this single-dose vaccine. In its plant, which once it begins to receive the raw material will be able to work 24 hours a day –in five shifts–, the so-called fill and finish. That is, the filling of the vials, the bottles that transport the serum until it is extracted with the syringe.
Reig Jofre has the capacity to produce close to a million doses a day. 250 a year. This was revealed by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, the day he visited the factory together with the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton.
At the time the agreement with Janssen was announced at the end of last year, the Catalan firm soared 25% in the stock market. The company was able to make use of its experience in sterile injectables and, above all, the fact that it was about to open this new plant in which it invested 30 million euros. The CEO Ignasi Biosca celebrated it at that time as “great news for the Spanish industrial fabric”.
To date, Spain has received just over two million doses of Janssen for the immunization campaign, a figure lower than that of Pifzer (34), AstraZeneca (10) or Moderna (4), although it was also the last to arrive . As it is a single dose, it is usually used for groups with greater disengagement from public services or who have access problems, such as homeless people.