India's Bharat Biotech to sell $1 diarrhoea vaccine

The Hyderabad-based firm hopes its new vaccine will help prevent part of the 500,000 child deaths each year caused due to rotavirus diarrhoea and improve access to better, affordable vaccines.

The company expects an India license for its vaccine in 2014 and World Health Organisation (WHO) prequalification in 2015 for supply to United Nations agencies.

The vaccine is currently undergoing Phase III clinical development for safety and efficacy in 8,000 subjects -- one of the largest such clinical trials ever conducted in India, said a statement by the company.

"The key to our success of bringing down the cost of vaccine is our novel concept in vaccine development and innovative manufacturing processes with public health in mind," said Bharat Biotech chairman and managing director Krishna Ella.

Ella recalled that in 2001 he had made a commitment to the Gates Foundation to develop and supply a novel rotavirus vaccine at $1 a dose. "We are extremely happy to honour that commitment," he said.

Bharat Biotech's rotavirus vaccine development project is a public-private partnership project.

It is between the company and the biotechnology department of the Indian government; Gates Foundation; Program for Appropriate Technologies in Health; Centers for Disease Control, US; National Institutes of Health (NIAID), USA; Society for Applied Studies,
Translational Health Sciences Technology Institute, Indian Institute of Science, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and Stanford University.

Bharat Biotech has an installed capacity of 300 million doses.

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