Shares of Johnson & Johnson fell nearly 3% this morning after the New England Journal of Medicine reported that The Janssen Research & Development Inc. in Menlo Park, California, and the company’s laboratory at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston test it on 102 employees and were able to correct it within 5 hours. J&J’s Theravance Inc. also received a notice that it was investigating its May 19 facilities in New Jersey, two of which were workers.
The Journal said that J&J’s labs evaluated the human gastrointestinal virus the same time it was found in a lab in Fort Worth, Texas, in August 2017, after J&J confirmed it was associated with human antigens on cells and test for contamination. The company’s laboratory in Houston is the only one that has equipment that can detect these volatile viruses at the human molecular level.
J&J did not immediately respond to a request for comment but noted in a statement that the labs also test other viruses including influenza, Ebola, Salmonella, pneumonia, Influenza A, and Naegleria fowleri.“We do not comment on laboratory-to-lab communications, but our U.S. laboratory continues to seek clearance for certain strains of Salmonella that are produced, exported, and imported,” the company said. “As such, the U.S. laboratories are providing this information to our pharmaceutical colleagues in the U.S. and abroad. Our U.S. laboratories do not test for human pathogens.” “If confirmed as a possibility, this will require additional cost but could allow (plans) to provide a lower impact,” Robert Prather, senior vice president of J&J Pharmaceuticals, wrote in an e-mailed statement. “We continue to work with regulators to correct the situation and position our labs to address the virus.”
In a response to the Journal article, J&J Theravance and Theravance stopped using their facilities because of adverse results and asserted that the cases that J&J discovered and confirmed were not associated with Salmonella.
In a statement, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a notice that Theravance’s facilities could be subject to civil and criminal penalties because the company no longer accepted home-use Salmonella as a part of its clinical sample in late 2017.
Theravance said it had stopped Salmonella vaccinations as a part of its clinical trial as of Feb. 1 but would resume them later. Theravance is currently conducting a clinical trial called Relenza. The treatment is currently at six facilities around the world.