Friday, August 6, 2021

Pfizer/Moderna reporting difficulty in hiring in Massachusetts for vaccine production

Via FiercePharma and the Boston Globe, recent testimony before the Massachusetts state legislature: 
During a hearing of the Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus on Tuesday, representatives from two drugmakers with physical footprints in Massachusetts told lawmakers that it has become harder to refresh their workforces with skilled workers at a time when they are both looking to increase production.

“In 2020, we went through a strong effort to prepare for what we knew was coming in the fall, a really significant scale-up and increased pace of production. And through that we almost industrialized the hiring process, . . . but I think something that was easier last year was the initial recruiting and identification of capable and qualified staff,” Paul Granadillo, senior vice president of global supply chain for Moderna, said.

Moderna, which is based in Cambridge, produces some of its COVID-19 vaccine at its manufacturing technology center in Norwood. The company opened the Norwood facility in July 2018 and this May announced plans to more than double its square footage in part to accommodate a 50 percent increase in the production of the COVID-19 vaccine expected late this year or early in 2022.

“So I would say that one of our most important topics is continued access to capable and qualified individuals, both for [good manufacturing practice] production as well as for quality control,” Granadillo said.

The situation is similar for Pfizer, which manufactures the mRNA substance used in its COVID-19 vaccine at a facility in Andover. Jon Tucker, Pfizer’s global supply site leader for Andover, said that building a talent pipeline through an apprenticeship program run by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s sister group MassBioEd, through relationships with local universities and colleges, and more traditional recruitment methods has been a key priority.

FiercePharma used the "shortage" word to describe this, and of course I am naturally quite skeptical of this, i.e. in order to use the s-word, I think you need to demonstrate sustained wage increases over a long period of time (and ahead of inflation!) in order for me to really believe that. Nevertheless, it's interesting to note that both Pfizer and Moderna are experiencing some level of difficulty in picking up biopharma production workers in Massachusetts. 

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