Vaccine maker Bharat Biotech will supply India’s first indigenously developed diarrhea vaccine to global markets and UN procurement agencies at a cut-price of $1, making it the cheapest vaccine manufactured so far globally, the company said on Monday.
Rotovac – the vaccine is currently under Phase III clinical trials and will be commercialized by 2015, thereby improving access and affordability to poorer nations. According to the Centre for Disease Control, about 500,000 child deaths are reported each year due to rotavirus diarrhea.
“Bharat Biotech strongly backs the initiative by GAVI to make vaccines affordable and available for countries worldwide. In 2001, I made a commitment to the Gates Foundation to develop and supply a novel rotavirus vaccine at US$1 a dose,” Dr. Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director said.
The company has an installed capacity of 300 million doses annually and will supply the vaccine to the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI) and other United Nations’ agencies after getting the required license.
“We expect to get the India license from the Drug Controller General of India by 2014 and the pre-qualification from the World Health Organisation pre-qualification by 2015,” said a company official.
Once commercialized, analysts say, Bharat Biotech’s Rotovac is expected to undercut the margins that multinational pharma companies Glaxo SmithKline and Merck enjoy in the sale of the rotavirus vaccine. Market estimates reveal that currently, GSK and Merck sell their vaccines at about $8 per dose to the UN agencies and $60 a dose in private markets. Bharat Biotech is yet to decide the price at which it will sell Rotovac privately when subscribed by doctors in India and overseas.
The vaccine development project is a public-private partnership project between the Hyderabad based company and a host of national and international research institutes like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Department of Biotechnology, the Gates Foundation, Program for Appropriate Technologies in Health, Centers for Disease Control, US to name a few.
The company also has a pipeline of Typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV), Japanese Encephalitis and Chikungunya. Vaccines for Rabies, Polio, and Typhoid are undergoing WHO prequalification to enable supplies to UN Agencies. Bharat Biotech has also submitted a dossier for its pentavalent vaccine for WHO prequalification.
Source: The Economic Times