In the past few years, close on the lines of Indian pharma, which is investing heavily in novel drugs or better generics, the vaccine industry has been making concerted efforts to develop vaccines on not just tropical neglected diseases, but also affordable versions of vaccines already available in the West. The recently organized Vaccine World Summit 2013 in Pune proved to be a melting pot of not just the vaccine industry, but also clinicians, regulators, funding agencies and research scientists. What set apart the large number of foreign agencies looking to partner with Indian companies was the fact that a majority of them were for early stage technology platforms involved in the development of vaccines.
Dr Suresh Jadhav, executive director, Serum Institute of India, very simply put the importance of Indian companies in context when he said, "75-80 percent of vaccines developed and procured by UN agencies are from the developing world and almost 80 percent of these are from India."
Estimates for the entire industry have ranged from $260 million according to Dr TS Rao, Adviser, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) to $500 million as stated in a report by consultancy firm McKinsey. These facts only serve to reinstate the overall belief that the impact of the Indian vaccine industry on immunization around the world is undeniable, and will continue to be fundamental in the days for providing affordable quality vaccines to the world.
New vaccines on the horizon
The Rotavirus vaccine, a mammoth Public-Private Partnership (PPP) involving DBT, Gates Foundation, Program for Appropriate Technologies in Health (PATH), Centers for Disease Control, USA, National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), USA, Society for Applied Studies, Translational Health Sciences Technology Institute, Indian Institute of Science, All India Institute of Medical Science, and Stanford University recently completed its Phase III trials in February 2013. These were conducted on 6800 subjects at three locations; SAS Delhi, CMC Vellore, and KEM Mumbai with the data currently being analyzed. Dr Krishna Ella, chairman and MD, Bharat Biotech had earlier announced that this vaccine would be made available at $1 only.
This has been the case with most ventures with a majority of the vaccines currently under development, a result of partnerships. One of those is Novavax and Cadila Pharmaceuticals, whose joint venture, CPL Biologics was created in 2009 to harness the innovation potential of a small biotech like Novavax and the advantage of scale and experience of Cadila Pharmaceuticals. Dr Sudeep Srivastava, Vice President, Biotech Manufacturing, Cadila Pharmaceutiacals, speaks of the progress made so far, "Moving ahead we have a very strong focus on developing vaccines using Novavax's platform technology. We have already completed Phase I and Phase II trials for a seasonal flu and a pandemic flu vaccine, based on based on Novavax's virus-like-particle (VLP) vaccine technology. Additionally,we are also in the midst of developing a rabies vaccine."