After Emergent placed the no-bid contract, the Trump administration reverted to traditional contract rules and looked for competitive proposals for additional bottlings and packaging, known in the industry as fill-finish work, the documents show. Ology Bioservices, based in Alachua, Fla., Agreed to provide essentially the same services as the Camden and Rockville Emergent plants for three-quarters to nearly one-third the cost, based on a contract calculation.
Under an agreement made in August, Ology would collect state fees of $ 6.83 per vial. By comparison, Emergent's existing lines would cost between $ 9.03 and $ 18.40 per vial.
A health ministry spokeswoman said Ology is cheaper in part because it can fill more than 100,000 vials in a single batch, which is five times what Emergent can handle. This "lowers the price per bottle by spreading the fixed costs over more bottles," she said in an email.
Even after the launch of Ology, the government continued its agreement with Emergent at a higher cost to ensure "additional capacity is available when or when it is needed to fill vaccines or therapeutics," she said. At the time of the deal, former and current federal officials said the government wanted to secure as much manufacturing capacity as possible before commercial companies buy it out.
Over the years, Emergent has grown by funding the expansion of its manufacturing facilities and the accumulation of product reserves.
In November 2019, the company announced that it would double its sales, including by expanding its contract manufacturing business. A senior vice president, Syed Husain, outlined a “game plan” that included “cross-selling additional services” to existing customers, including the federal government. Six months later, Emergent signed the contract that expanded its existing government contract to include work in its Camden and Rockville locations.
Dr. Robert Kadlec, a former Trump administration official who oversaw the agency that awarded Covid-19 contracts, had previously worked as a consultant for Emergent. Dr. Kadlec has said that he did not negotiate the emergent deal but approved it. Emergent said it negotiated the agreement with professional government officials.