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MNCs circle, descend on Indian vaccine market

Introduction of immunisation programme and aggressive product rollout by domestic firms are prompting MNCs to strengthen presence

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Global majors are trying to get into the high-growth vaccine market in India through standalone launches and alliances with local partners.

Introduction of the National Immunisation Programme (NIP) and aggressive rollout of innovative products by domestic companies is prompting multinational corporations (MNCs) to strengthen presence in the India market.

A report on the Indian states, “At two per cent penetration, the vaccines market of India is significantly under-penetrated. The private segment accounts for two-thirds of the $250-million market.” McKinsey expects the market to grow to $1.7 billion by 2020.

Last month, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis, signed a marketing and distribution agreement with Emcure Pharmaceuticals for Verorab, its anti-rabies vaccine. Verorab is to be imported and supplied by India, while Emcure would market and distribute it. Sanofi-Aventis is setting up Asia’s largest vaccine making facility in Hyderabad, for an investment of Rs 500 crore. It already enjoys a strong presence in the Indian vaccine space, following the buyout of Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotechnics in 2009 for Rs 3,000 crore.

“For driving growth in the vaccine segment, the companies need to produce locally or leverage supply partnership,” said Palash Mitra, partner at Mckinsey & Co.

is strengthening presence through launches. Last year, GSK India had launched Synflorix, a vaccine against invasive pneumococcal disease, the latter being a leading cause of childhood mortality in India. Hasit B. Joshipura, managing director, GSK India, had said, “The vaccine business showed a high growth trajectory, with the company continuing to expand its portfolio.”

Tapan Ray, director-general, Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), comprising MNC majors, said, “If appropriate policy measures are initiated in the country without further delay, the domestic vaccine market , in turn, will receive further growth momentum, with newer players coming in and introduction of more and more novel vaccines by the global players.”

To tap the under-penetrated market, Indian counterparts are launching innovative vaccines and exploring niche segments. Panacea Biotec is in the process of launching a tetravalent chimeric dengue vaccine and a Japanese encephalitis vaccine by 2013-14. Rajesh Jain, joint MD of Panacea, told Business Standard: “The total demand for vaccines in the coming years will be driven by developed countries. Of the 131 million children born worldwide annually, 121 million are from developed countries. Also, the warcry for affordable healthcare forces to shift focus to countries like India as a low-cost manufacturing hub.”

Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL), the Hyderabad-based vaccine maker, says it is in the process of developing the world’s first vaccine for chikungunya. The other advanced stage candidates of IIL are a paediatric pentavalent vaccine against diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, Hepatitis B, and H. influenza. Plus, a vaccine for preventing cervical cancer in women.

Bharat Biotech has rotavirus vaccines in its pipeline, expected to be marketed in two to three years.

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