How Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics Turned Around the Ship it Got From Chiron

7/13/10Follow @bvbigelow

Matthew Stober had a dramatic story to tell when he came through San Diego to speak to pharma manufacturing executives at last month’s annual Vaccine Production Summit. As the global head of technical operations for Cambridge, MA-based Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics, Stober was closely involved in the corporate turnaround that enabled Novartis to ship more than 150 million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine to more than 20 countries during last year’s global pandemic.

Creating a core operations team to drive the corporate reorganization proved to be critical when the H1N1 pandemic erupted in 2009, Stober said, “because we had never done anything like that before. We would never have gotten there if we had not started a culture of change two years before.”

Matthew Stober

Matthew Stober

Stober told me he joined Novartis in 2006, after the company paid $5.4 billion to acquire Chiron, the global biotech based near Berkeley in Emeryville, CA, to help reorganize Chiron’s troubled vaccine business. (The San Diego-based Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation operates under the auspices of the diagnostics side of the business, which is based in Emeryville.)

Stober began his case study, though, with a full-blown corporate crisis that began in Liverpool, England, in 2004.

That was the year British medicines and healthcare regulators shut down a Chiron vaccine production plant in Liverpool after some four million doses of Chiron’s flu vaccine failed a sterility test. The closure unleashed a torrent of critical press coverage and created a … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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