Vaccine-maker Serum Institute of India has rolled out its thermostable version of a rotavirus vaccine Rotasiil and Rabishield, a supplement to the rabies vaccine.

Rabishield, a monoclonal antibody used as a supplement in treating rabies, was developed in partnership with Massachusetts Medical School, US.

Adar C. Poonawalla, Chief Executive, said the rotavirus vaccine could be stored at room temperature and so would not require a cold-chain for storage. “The (rotavirus) vaccines would be sold at ₹700-800,” he added. Pune-based Serum is part of the Cyrus Poonawalla group.

“We have received an order of 3.8 million from the government for the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP),”said Prasad S Kulkarni, Medical Director at Serum. Prices will be considerably lower for the public market, he said, adding that they had the capacity to scale up production to 100 million doses. Rajeev S. Dhere, Serum Executive Director, said that the rotavirus vaccine will be ready for exports in the first quarter of the coming year.

“Our new drug - Rabishield - is a first of its kind product for passive immunisation against rabies. Since the new drug will be 25 per cent cheaper than the existing rabies immunoglobulins, it would meet the needs of the poor countries,” Adar said. Rabishield in the private market is priced at about ₹18,000.

The rotavirus vaccine segment has other players in the market, including multinationals GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and local vaccine maker Bharat Biotech. Rabishield has Bharat Biotech and Haffkine Institute in the same segment, with multinational Sanofi in another version of the product. Giving details on other vaccines expected from Serum, he said, at least three more vaccines including the HPV (human papillomavirus, for cervical cancer) and pneumococcal vaccine are in the pipeline by 2020.

On the second SEZ coming up at Pune, he said that part of the facility will be solely for research on products for the European Union and North American markets. The company had reached a saturation point in the African, Asian and South American markets, he said. “ We have already invested ₹200 crore in this facility,” he added.

From a regulatory perspective, he said the industry has requested the Health Ministry to come up with a single-window clearance for vaccines. Serum's revenue stands at almost ₹ 4,000 crore, with a 30-40 per cent profit margin, he said. The aim is to become a ₹10,000 crore company in five years.