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Johnson & Johnson CFO: COVID vaccine 'on track' after blood clot scare

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Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (JNJ), which saw distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine temporarily halted due to isolated health concerns, is on track to "have the pause remedied," a top executive told Yahoo Finance on Tuesday.

The FDA paused vaccinations using the J&J vaccine last week, after 6 women developed rare blood clots. More than seven million Americans have received the J&J vaccine, but Anthony Fauci, the government's top medical advisor, has suggested in recent days that the shot would likely return soon, albeit with some limits.

"Safety is the utmost importance for all of our products not just the vaccine but for any product we issue in our segments," J&J CFO Joe Wolk told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview. "Here the process worked," Wolk said, speaking about the inoculation halt.

"We identified a situation that gave us reason for a concern. We brought that to the regulators in the FDA here in the U.S. as well as those in Europe," he added.

Wolk pointed out that the South African government has lifted its pause permitting the J&J vaccine to be used once again. Meanwhile, Fauci expects US regulators to make a decision by Friday on the J&J vaccine.

"Our vaccine has probably the most robust data package around some of these newer variants and so we feel very confident and are hopeful that the benefit risk profile of this product will continue to be a solution to help fight the global pandemic," Wolk told Yahoo Finance.

J&J 'remediate what needs to be remediated'

Federal regulators yesterday ordered Emergent BioSolutions Inc. to stop making Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine at its plant, where 15 million doses were discarded. It was discovered a key ingredient was contaminated with ingredients from another vaccine.

According to Wolk, the company plans to "remediate what needs to be remediated. Assuming the regulatory process goes well and regulators get comfortable, we will be in a very good position to not just meet our commitments contractually here in the US, but across the globe."

J&J reported strong first quarter earnings beating Wall Street estimates. Sales were up almost 8% year over year to $22.3 billion. The company is producing its COVID-19 vaccine on a not for profit basis. Sales in its pharmaceutical unit were up 9.6% to $12.2 billion, and J&J's medical device unit is rebounding after taking a pandemic hit.

"If you look at our medical device business, we're very pleased with the 9% growth, because there's still some elective procedures across the globe that are on pause. But pharmaceuticals continues to lead the way," Wolk said.

J&J's board of directors voted to raise its dividend 5% which which Wolk points to as a sign of the company's long term prospects. "I am actually very proud that we're well suited for growth in 2022 and beyond," he said.

Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live 3pm to 5pm. Follow him on Twitter @Ajshaps

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