2020 Newsmaker of the Year: GRAM tapped to support development of COVID-19 vaccine

Thomas Ross Courtesy Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing

CATEGORY: Manufacturing

WINNER: Thomas Ross

COMPANY: Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing

After opening its $60 million fill-and-finish facility in Grand Rapids in June, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing this summer was tapped by the federal government to help with the process of developing and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine.

GRAM is a parenteral contract development and manufacturing organization founded in 2010 that has seen phenomenal growth in the past decade and officially tripled its footprint and capacity by opening a 61,500-square-foot injectable fill-and-finish facility at 524 Butterworth St. SW just west of the Grand River in June.

The facility features a Grade C cleanroom; two formulation suites; $15 million worth of high-speed equipment — including a SKAN isolator and an IMA lyophilizer auto-loader, as well as a high-speed Bausch+Ströbel filling line that enables GRAM to produce commercial batches of all sizes; and plenty of room to grow on the building’s second floor.

Opening the facility couldn’t have been better timing with a global pandemic in full swing. In August, GRAM was tapped by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Defense to support the expansion of domestic capacity for manufacturing and distributing vaccines or therapeutics related to the COVID-19 pandemic through Operation Warp Speed. By September, GRAM entered into an agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, to support the manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The vaccine is currently in its phase three trial with 45,000 participants enrolled as of Dec. 17 and results expected by the end of this month.

“Should their vaccine candidate be approved, the opportunity to serve the population with a vaccine to combat the COVID-19 pandemic alongside Johnson & Johnson is an extraordinary privilege,” said Thomas Ross, president and CEO of GRAM. “Our team is enthusiastic, dedicated and focused on supporting Johnson & Johnson in the fight against COVID-19.”

Click here to read about the other winners of the 2020 Newsmakers of the Year.

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