Biological E. Ltd today launched the county’s first indigenous vaccine JEEV to tackle Japanese encephalitis.

Priced at Rs 985, the vaccine will be available in the private domestic market. In due course, it will be exported, according to Mahima Datla, Senior Vice-President of the company.

Technology for the vaccine has been obtained from the Austrian vaccine maker Intercell. The Austrian company produces a vaccine targeted to provide protection to travellers from Europe, Australia, US etc., to regions, where the Japanese encephalitis is prevalent.

“We have indigenised the technology and developed an inactivated vaccine targeting children and adults in India, where the infection is high,’’ she told newspersons here.

Production capacity

The Hyderabad-based vaccine producer has built an initial capacity of producing 10 million doses. It will be upscaled in tune with demand and once the export licences are obtained.

The company has invested up to Rs 400 crore in a modern vaccine production facility on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Vaccines for tetanus, diptheria, Hib, JE etc. are produced here.

It company has supplied 200 million doses of these vaccines through the UNICEF to various countries.

Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain tissue. It is caused due to infection caused by a mosquito bite, which carries the virus. At present, there is no strong anti-viral therapy. Vaccination is considered the most effective weapon.

The Government imports small quantities of a ‘live' vaccine from China. The problem is severe as lakhs of people get infected by the virus annually.

WHO report

According to the WHO, about 15,000 people die annually due to the after-effects of Japanese encephalitis. In India, more than 8,000 confirmed cases were recorded in 2011 of whom, 1,100 died.

Inactivated vaccines are considered to have better safety profile compared to live vaccines, she said.

JEEV is a second generation inactivated vaccine. Its safety has been established in trials and is licensed by the Drug Controller General of India. Intercell's vaccine, which formed the basis for the technology transfer to BE, is licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration.

somasekhar.m@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 13, 2012)
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