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IIL plans to launch world’s first pig vaccine for cysticercosis

Livemint:  May, 2015

Hyderabad: Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL), a subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board, on Monday said that it plans to launch the world’s first pig vaccine for procine cysticercosis by the year-end.

IIL has partnered with Scotland-based Global Alliance Livestock Vet Medicine (GALVmed) and the University of Melbourne, Australia, to make the livestock vaccine at an industrial scale.

Classified as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organisation, cysticercosis is a parasitic infection that can cause brain disorders like epilepsy or seizures in humans. The disease spreads from pigs infected by tapeworm called Taenia solium to humans upon eating raw or undercooked pork and vice-versa to pigs in contact with human faeces. The vaccine works by eliminating the parasite’s ability to transmit.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are 50 million human cases and about 50,000 deaths are reported every year, mainly in developing countries. The vaccine will be based on antigen TSOL-18, which was identified and tested on pigs with the help of researchers at the University of Melbourne.

IIL was set up in Hyderabad in 1982 to indigenously develop and produce vaccine for highly infectious and fatal Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The technology to manufacture FMD was obtained from the Wellcome Foundation, UK.

“Hoechst AG, a German vaccine maker, sold the vaccine at Rs.14, which was unaffordable for most farmers, IIL launched the FMD vaccine at Rs.4. Now after 30 years, the vaccine is sold at Rs.7.50,” says K Ananda Kumar, deputy managing director at IIL.

Now with a capacity to produce 360 million doses, IIL is the world’s top producer of FMD vaccine and supplies around 80% of it for the control programme in India. In addition to animal vaccines, the company also develops painkillers, antibiotics and deworming drugs for animals.

In 1999, the company entered human vaccine market and set up human biologicals institute (HBI) in Ooty, a division of ILL to produce human anti-rabies vaccine using cell factories instead of sheep brains, first of its kind technology for an India company at that time. It went on adding DPT, Tetanus and recombinant hepatitis-B vaccines into its portfolio.

IIL said the clinical trials for pentavalent vaccine, a paediatric 5-in-1 combination vaccine, that includes protection against diphtheria, tetanus, whole cell pertussis, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) has entered advanced clinical trial.

The vaccine is expected to hit the Indian market between October-December in 2016.

Kumar said ILL is investing Rs.150 crore on phase-2 to produce pentavalent vaccine at Karkapatla in Medak district in Telangana. In phase-1 the company invested Rs.150 crore on expanding capacity of its Abhayrab vaccine. “The idea is to go for WHO prequalification in next 2-3 years,” Kumar said. WHO prequalification allows the company to participate in global tenders to supply of pentavalent vaccine. ILL will also be investing Rs.111 crore on developing inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).

WHO as part of its Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, insisting on countries to eventually replace oral polio vaccine (OPV) with IPV. IPV which is given through injection contains inactive virus, is considered to be much safer than OPV that contains live attenuated virus.

Kumar said the company is also working on developing chikungunya vaccine, with virus strain borrowed from the US Army.

ILL, for the year ended March, has sales of Rs.483 crore and half of it comes from animal vaccines. Human vaccine contribute 35% and the rest comes from animal nutrition. The company said it plans to double its revenue in the next 2-3 years and expects high margin human vaccine sales to surpass low margin animal sales.

With capacity expansion and new products adding to our portfolio, we don’t see any problem to in doubling our sales, Kumar said.