NEBRASKA–Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) recently announced a $70 million manufacturing infrastructure project to support mass vaccination campaigns related to COVID-19 and future pandemics.
BD and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) have formed a strategic, public-private partnership to develop new manufacturing lines for injection devices. This partnership will provide the U.S. government with priority access to hundreds of millions of syringes and needles to support current and future pandemic vaccination efforts.
(BARDA is part of the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. BARDA was established to aid in securing the nation from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats according to PHE.gov.)
According to a July 8 press release, BARDA will invest approximately $42 million into the $70 million capital project in order to further expand BD’s operations and manufacturing in Nebraska, where the company has manufactured medical devices for nearly 70 years. The new capacity is expected to be online within 12 months.
KCNI/KBBN has reached out to Senior Director of Public Relations at BD, Troy Kirkpatrick, to clarify if this project will affect all of the BD plants in Nebraska or just some of them, but has not heard back at this time. The company operates four manufacturing plants in Nebraska: one in Broken Bow, one in Holdrege, and two in Columbus.
In addition, BD has also finalized an initial pandemic order for 50 million needles and syringes to be delivered by the end of this year to support the U.S. vaccination effort for COVID-19. This order will be fulfilled through BD’s current manufacturing capacity, and the company continues to work closely with the U.S. government to finalize additional near-term quantities of injection devices that will be needed to fulfill the promise of the Operation Warp Speed vaccine program.
“BD’s commitment to produce 50 million vaccine injection devices by the end of this year to support the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination campaign is the latest effort in the company’s multifaceted global response to this virus, and the new, strategic public-private partnership will help ensure the U.S. is prepared for future pandemic vaccination efforts,” said Rick Byrd, president of Medication Delivery Solutions for BD.
“Over the past four years, BD has committed to invest more than $340 million in our Nebraska facilities. We are extremely proud of our talented and dedicated workforce in Nebraska and our longstanding partnership with the state, and we look forward to building on our strong presence and track record in Nebraska as we move forward,” Byrd continued.
In June, the BD plant in Broken Bow furloughed a total of 220 employees out of nearly 600. All furloughs will extend through the end of July. Kirkpatrick told KCNI/KBBN last month employees will keep their health benefits with the company but also qualify for unemployment benefits.
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse released the following statement after BD announced the partnership with BARDA.
“Nebraskans know how to get the job done. This partnership is good news because it will help us beat this nasty virus once we have a vaccine while making a big investment in Nebraska’s workers. This effort will take a heavy lift, and I’m grateful our state is going to play a big role.”
The press release also states that based on BD’s manufacturing capability, the company does not expect this initial order of needles and syringes, or future quantities, to impact BD’s ability to fulfill existing customer requirements for needles and syringes, including the annual flu vaccination and childhood immunization campaigns.
In addition, the Defense Production Act designation on the initial order enables BD to seek priority access to raw materials for manufacturing, and the company also expects enhanced logistics support from the U.S. government to ensure rapid transport and distribution of devices.