• 11 July 2008
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Indian Immunologicals

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Indian Immunologicals

Vet endeavors

Indian Immunologicals is the fifth largest animal health player in the Indian market. It operates one of the largest plants in the world for veterinary vaccines.

The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) set up Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL) in 1982 with the objective of making Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine available to farmers at an affordable price. The technology for FMD vaccine manufacture was obtained from the UK-based Wellcome Foundation. The plant in Hyderabad today has a capacity to make 80 million trivalent doses of FMD vaccine. Following the successful introduction of Foot & Mouth Disease vaccine-Raksha, IIL launched the tissue culture vaccine Raksharab in 1989. This was the first Indian tissue culture vaccine in the market. Subsequently IIL has developed many biologicals through its own R&D efforts and launched several vaccines in the Indian market at affordable prices. IIL is today the fifth largest animal health player in the Indian market and the market leader in veterinary biologicals in India. It operates one of the largest plants in the world for veterinary vaccines and is WHO-GMP and ISO-9001 certified. IIL exports its products to several countries and exports contributed substantially to the company's turnover.

IIL pursues not only the mandate of NDDB to provide products and services to enhance the quality of livestock in the country but also use its technological capabilities to the benefit of the people of India. IIL strongly believes that its mission of "immunity made affordable" can be actively pursued only with a sound technology base in modern biotechnology. IIL operates a facility in Ooty to manufacture the Vero cell culture rabies vaccine for use in human beings. This plant was set up in 1998 at the specific request of the Government of India so that the country can phase out use of the older and unsafe sheep brain vaccine (also termed nerve tissue vaccine - NTV)) with the modern tissue culture vaccine. IIL sells the product under the brand name Abhayrab through its network of Abhay Clinics. The success of Abhayrab and Abhay Clinics emboldened IIL to build a new vaccine facility in Hyderabad to manufacture various other human vaccines such as Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Recombinant Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A and Measles.

Elovac-B vaccine, a noninfectious recombinant DNA vaccine indicated for immunization against infection caused by all known subtypes of Hepatitis B virus has been one of the most successful products of the company. The year 2007 was very significant for the company. It launched the indigenously produced measles vaccine, the Raksha-PPR (Pestis des petits Ruminants) vaccine, and also the animal nutrition division - Calsagar, Goumix, Goumin.

 

"We plan to come out with mAbs in the next two years"

-KV Balasubramaniam, MD, Indian Immunologicals

Please elaborate on major developments in IIL in the last one year?

Major developments have been on the animal health side. We got into the nutraceuticals market. The animal nutraceuticals market is nearly Rs 400 crore. The nutraceutical products contributed nearly Rs 10 crore of our revenue in one year.

We closed last year with Rs 196 crore of which Rs 101 crore came from animal healthcare products and Rs 71 crore from human healthcare products. One of the major initiatives was venturing into nutraceuticals. We are trying to address the whole issue of animal healthcare in a holistic manner.

Last year, a significant development has been enlarging the number of partnerships in research for Japanese Encephalitis and Chikungunya (Chicken Guinea). We are getting into joint development programs for these vaccines. In this regard, we now have an agreement with PATH for the development of heat stable and resistant vaccines starting with Hepatitis b and many other vaccines. In terms of business it will take a little while before we start looking at therapeutics or diagnostics because we still have some more jobs to be done. We are looking at some new recombinant and anti-tick vaccine. The anti-tick vaccine will an antigen which will destroy the tick.

We now have a sister concern, Indiagene, which is into animal breeding. We started Indiagene as a subsidiary company of IIL, but from April 1, 2008, it is fully owned by the National Diary Development Board (NDDB). NDDB bought our shareholding as we have bigger plans for the company.

We have to wait for our research to bring us the combination vaccines which would take another 6-8 months and so we plan to come out with the quadrivalent and pentavalent vaccines, i.e. DPT+hepatitis B and DPT+hepatitis B+HIB, only by the end of the year.

 

What is the competition in the animal healthcare market like?

In animal healthcare the competition is modest. In the FMD market, we have few competitors like Intervet, BB Biologicals (Venkateshwara Hatcheries), Biovet and few other small players. However, in certain products for diseases such as Thaleoriosis (a parasitic disease in cattle), we have no competitors. But again in canine vaccines we have a lot of competition. Our product Elovac is doing considerably well. It gives us a consistent market presence. We have two retail shops for marketing -- one is Abhay Clinic and the other one is Abhay Shoppe. We have around 250 Abhay Shoppes and plan to take it to 400 this year. These are basically dedicated vaccine dealers.

 

What is the company doing to keep the sales growing?

Growth will continue as we will be coming out with a broader range of human healthcare products, but this will happen only in the next fiscal. In animal healthcare, we will be increasing our capacity. We are expecting a good growth in exports. We have been exporting vaccines and Abhayrab, one of our major products. Every country has been using our FMD vaccine except Pakistan. However, in another six months we will also be selling our FMD products in Pakistan, the registration is still pending. In South East Asia we have a marketing alliance with Pfizer.

 

What is the current size of the animal healthcare market?

The overall size of the animal healthcare market is nearly Rs 1,400 crore. About 15 percent of that is the vaccine market size and it is 50:50 between poultry and bovine-canine vaccine. The poultry market is therefore somewhere close to Rs 105 crore. We hold 80 percent share in the FMD vaccine market.

 

How big is the Hepatitis B vaccine market?

I do not have the exact figure, but this year the government wants to buy Hepatitis vaccine worth Rs 30 crore, which is about 60 million doses. The retail market is now only about 60 to 70 million doses.

 

What percentage of the company's revenues is spent on R&D?

We spend about five percent of our sales on R&D. R&D is focused mainly on vaccine, diagnostics and therapeutics. We also plan to invest in our new facility in APIC Biotech Park, Phase 3. The facility would basically be for animal and human vaccine production and animal health formulations. The facility will help us create capacities for vaccines against brucellosis and rabies. The facility will be operational in another two years.

 

Please chalk out the future plans of IIL.

We will certainly look at biotherapeutics in future, particularly monoclonals. It will be a logical expansion for a vaccine company like ours because we are still in immunology and biologicals. Today monoclonals are making a mark especially in the treatment of breast cancer, head and neck cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. The market itself is close to $14 billion globally and is growing at a rate of 40 percent. The Indian market is, however, still very small and here it must be less than Rs 100 crore. New players are coming in and Dr Reddy's is the first player in this space. We plan to come out with monoclonal antibodies in the next two years. The issue with monoclonals is patents. Many still have a very valid patent for the next 7-8 years.

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