Defunct vaccine PSU resumes operations in Kasuli

Defunct vaccine PSU resumes operations in Kasuli

Four years after it was closed down for being an outdated unit, the newly refurbished government vaccine manufacturing centre at Kasuli has begun re-supplying vaccine for the universal immunisation programme.

This has lowered the government’s dependency on private companies for essential vaccines somewhat.

The Central Research Institute (CRI) at Kasauli last week delivered 16.84 lakh doses of DPT (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) vaccine to the Union health ministry and was expected to complete its first order of 30 lakh doses by next month, sources said.

From April 1, CRI would produce 30 lakh doses of DPT vaccine for global use.

CRI, along with Pasteur Institute of India (PII) at Coonoor in Tamil Nadu and BCG Vaccine Laboratory at Guindy, Chennai was closed down by then Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss in 2008 who cited the World Health Organisation’s recommendations for closing the three public sector manufacturers for not being good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant.

Ramadoss’ plan was to shift to private sector vaccine manufacturers for a temporary period before switching over to a new vaccine-manufacturing park to be set up near Chennai. The plan backfired as the private companies charged much more for the vaccine and could not meet the supply creating a vaccine shortage.

The controversial UPA-I health minister also came under severe criticism from Left parties as several allegations of corruption and nepotism flew thick and fast. Probes were ordered and some of the legal cases are still going on.

An internal health ministry inquiry report stated that the responsibility for the decision would rest on the then health minister and health secretary. In other words, it indicted Ramadoss and then Health Secretary P K Hota. Meanwhile, the government began working on a revival package. It set up an expert panel under former health secretary Javed Chowdhury. The panel recommended revocation of the licence in 2010 and described the licence suspension as “incorrect”, which was based on an “illegal procedure”  and a “flawed appreciation” of the issues.

For revival, the UPA-II government gave some money to all the three units so that they can become GMP compliant.

The PII is expected to start supply of vaccine from June, 2012 with a target of 20 lakh doses per month.