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Zydus Cadila ties up with Swiss major to expand range

Our Bureau

HYDERABAD, Nov. 20

ZYDUS Cadila Healthcare Ltd (ZCHL), the Ahmedabad-based Rs 589-crore healthcare major, has chalked out a plan to expand its product portfolio of vaccines through overseas arrangements.

Towards this, the company proposes to take the technology transfer and import routes with the Swiss vaccine giant - Berna Biotech.

According to the ZCHL General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Mr S. Nagaraj, some of the vaccines being proposed to be sourced from Berna Biotech include Hepatitis-A, MMR and Vericilla, and chicken fox vaccine.

Addressing newspersons here on Tuesday on the eve of launch of `Vaxirab', a purified duck embryo rabies vaccine manufactured in technical collaboration with Berna Biotech, Mr Nagaraj said the strategy of expanding vaccine portfolio was part of the company's plan to focus more on preventive medicine segment over therapeutics.

Stating that Hepatitis-A and MMR vaccines would be introduced in the Indian market by June next year, Mr Nagaraj said clinical trials on Vericilla had already commenced and the company had obtained the necessary approvals from the Indian Government. The chicken fox vaccine would be launched in the Indian market in a couple of months, he said.

Berna Biotech's portfolio includes a solid core of four marketed products based on its innovative technology platforms, six projects in the clinical phase and five projects in pre-clinical development.

Zydus Cadila proposes to consolidate its tie-ups with Berna Biotech for introducing the latter's immuno-therapeutic products in the Indian market.

Stating that Vaxirab was proved to have 10 to 15 times more potency levels compared to other rabies vaccines currently available in the Indian market, Mr Nagaraj said the Central Drug Laboratories at Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh had recently cleared the decks for the launch of the vaccine.

The clinical trials of Vaxirab were conducted at Haffkine's Institute at Mumbai, where very high protective antibody levels were demonstrated in both healthy volunteers and patients with animal bites.

Unlike other rabies vaccines currently available in the Indian market, Vaxirab does not require any artificial media for propagation of the rabies virus, making it safe with no allergic reactions, Mr Nagaraj said.

At present, Zydus Cadila is importing around 10,000 pathogen-free duck eggs every fortnight from a farm located in the UK. Stating that the company was able to produce two doses of rabies vaccine from each duck egg, Mr Nagaraj said the cost of manufacturing was expensive through this process compared to other manufacturing methods practised in the country. However, the company has decided to make the vaccine available at Rs 294 per single dose, which is on par with the pricing of other vaccines in the market that had low potency levels, he said.

Unlike other players, Zydus Cadila makes the vaccine administration easy and safe by offering the product in a pre-filled syringe containing one ml of diluent and vial of lyophilised vaccine.

Further, aimed at making the product available to the Indian masses at affordable prices, the company was also planning to set up its own pathogen-free duck eggs farm at Ahmedabad, Mr Nagaraj said.

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