Madhumathi D.S.

Bangalore, June 28

Vaccine maker Indian Immunologicals Ltd says it plans to enter the niche cervical cancer vaccine zone and come out with four more vaccines in two to three years.

Currently, MNCs GlaxoSmithKline and Merck's local arm MSD Pharmaceuticals are in pursuit of the market for cervical cancer. WHO estimates that this cancer strikes 1.3 lakh women in India and kills 74,000 each year - over 25 per cent of such deaths worldwide.

The Hyderabad-based company is working on a novel oral vaccine against HPV (human papilloma virus) that causes cervical cancer and it is unlikely to reach the market before 2014 because of the elaborate validation it requires, IIL's Managing Director, Mr K.V. Balasubramaniam, told Business Line recently in Bangalore.

Merck's Gardasil and GSK's Cervarix which are knocking at the local market are both injections. The MNC blockbuster brands are multi-dose and each dose costs Rs 3,000-5000.

Expansion plan

The anti-HPV vaccine is one of the five additions to the human vaccines portfolio that IIL has lined up for between 2012 and 2014. IIL, owned by the National Dairy Development Board, has embarked on a Rs 200-crore expansion plan of its facilities, Mr Balasubramaniam said. A new composite facility estimated at Rs 150 crore would come up at the biotech park at Karkapatla in Hyderabad. An additional Rs 50 crore would go into upgrading the three facilities in Hyderabad and Ooty. The spending would be partly through debt.

Mr Balasubramaniam said the new products and enhanced capacity were expected to take IIL's revenue to Rs 400 crore next year. It did a turnover of Rs 272 crore for FY 2010.

In the Rs 1,000-crore domestic market for human vaccines, IIL is the sole supplier for the universal immunisation programme.

Mr Balasubramaniam said this year IIL, one of the top four domestic producers of the human rabies vaccine, was raising its output to 7.5 million doses, up from 6 million, which would make it the largest producer of the critical vaccine. IIL, Bharat Biotech, Cadila and Aventis together supply 15 million doses a year, with IIL holding about 35 per cent of the share in the Rs 350-crore market.

IIL promotes its rabies vaccine, Abhayrab, as an affordable shot against dog bite through a novel network of a few hundred Abhay ‘clinics' - where doctors are roped in to dispense vaccines.

The other four new products that would go into clinical trials shortly include a safer Japanese encephalitis vaccine from an inactivated strain; vaccines for hepatitis A, chikungunya; and a five-in-one to shield children from diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and H influenza B (HIB). They were expected to be launched between 2011 and 2013, Mr Balasubramaniam said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 29, 2010)
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