Dr Davinder Gill, chief executive officer, Hilleman Laboratories.
Q: What is the progress on Hilleman's rotavirus vaccine candidate? When do we get to see it in the market?
Our vaccine is an established one, licensed in 110 countries with 120 million doses. There is already lot of safety and efficacy data available. What we have decided is that the optimization is essential. Since it is not a new vaccine like others and has an established data system, we can go ahead with optimization and once that is over, we will go ahead with human immunogenicity tests.
The problem is that when the vaccine was originally launched, the Indian conditions were not kept in mind then. It was in liquid form which is not suitable to Indian conditions. Once you bring it out, it has to be put into expensive packaging and cold chain. In our case, if we had a vaccine that would have never been tested, we may had to take it though phase I, II, III trials which could have taken 10-11 years. But since we have data availability and vaccine being used on other populations, we are hopeful of achieving success in Indian conditions. We are hopeful of success within 2-3 years, by 2017.
Q: How do you look at vaccines being worked upon by Shantha Biotech, Serum Institute and Merdoch Research Centre?
Those are new candidates. Shantha is doing phase III studies to see whether the vaccine will be effective. This is actually what DBT and Bharat Biotech did last year. Shantha and Murdoch are even behind. However, until the third phase results are over, whether children responded to vaccine or not, we don't know. Also, whether vaccine is designed for developing nations, is not clear. All these questions are being addressed. There are different approaches but it remains to be seen which the best approach is.