Mr KV Balasubramaniam
Indian Immunological, Hyderabad
Hyderabad-based Indian Immunological Limited (IIL) has seen a host of
milestone achievements in 2010 including expansion to high-demand
international markets such as the Africa and CIS countries; acquisition
of an animal breeding and reproduction genetics unit; and increase in
supplies of its products to government-driven healthcare programs.
In a free-wheeling chat with BioSpectrum, Mr KV Balasubramaniam,
managing director of IIL, throws light on the company’s growth
drivers, the pivotal role of government programs in the growth of the
company and the prevailing trends in animal biological vaccines market.
Q What were the key achievements and growth drivers for
IIL in 2010?
Mr KVB: In the domestic market, the company focused on nutraceutical
products for animal health and also the creation of Raksha Veterinary
Centers which provide affordable healthcare to the livestock sector,
particularly in the rural areas. We have launched products like calcium
supplements, region specific mineral mixture and fertility improvement
products. In 2010, we also acquired animal breeding and reproduction
genetics company, IndiaGen. In international markets, IIL expanded its
footprint into the Africa and CIS countries. IIL’s Raksha FMD vaccine
and Abhayrab, the human rabies vaccine, are leading brands in many
Government’s emphasis on livestock vaccination for diseases such as
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), brucellosis, Peste des Petits Ruminants
(PPR); and growing understanding of nutrition needs of livestock are
the major growth drivers for the company. On the human health side, the
growth will be driven by the growing private market for vaccines not
covered under the universal immunization program (UIP) and for
newer vaccines in the pediatric segment.
Q Which business division (animal health/human
health) showed maximum growth in 2010?
Mr KVB: Out of the $59 million revenue in 2009–10, animal health
contributed $22.8 million, animal breeding contributed $2.3 million,
human health contributecd $25.2 million, and exports contributed $8.7
million. The maximum growth was delivered by the human health division,
which was 30 percent over the previous year, thanks to the growing
strength of the Abhayrab – Rabies vaccine, also supported by sales of
pediatric vaccine to the government’s UIP.
Q Could you give an overview of the contribution of
government/public health programs to IIL’s overall business?
Mr KVB: There is an increased emphasis by the government on enlarging
the Disease Control Programs to include brucellosis and PPR for
vaccination. Besides, the scope of the FMD control program is also
being increased to cover 221 districts as compared to 54 at present.
This will be taken up in the remaining two years of the current 11th
Five Year Plan. This will consequently lead to the demand for FMD,
brucellosis and PPR vaccines. On the human health side, we understand
that the government is also working on enlarging the vaccine range
under the UIP and on improving the vaccination coverage, which is
relatively low in India. The Indian government is also planning to
introduce a measles vaccination program this year. As a result,
there would be increase in demand for pediatric vaccines, for hepatitis
B, measles and MMR.
Q IIL has made sizable investments in R&D last year.
Could you throw light on the areas where these investments were made?
Mr KVB: IIL spends about five percent of its sales for R&D
activities ($2.8 million in FY 2009–10). IIL focuses on vaccines – for
both animal and human health - which are critically needed in India and
in developing countries. The platform technologies that we work on are
various recombinant technologies, hybridoma and plant biology, apart
from novel delivery systems. Among the vaccines that are being
developed for animal health are glycoconjugate vaccines for
brucellosis; novel recombinant vaccines for FMD, enterotoxemia, porcine
cysticercosis, canine parvovirus, and tick infestations; and
conventional vaccines for blue tongue, Calf diarrhea and IBR in the
animal health segment. On the human health side, there are vaccines for
chikungunya, hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, hook worm, combination
pediatric vaccines, and HPV. IIL’s R&D center in Hyderabad has
about 60 scientists working in state-of-the-art facilities occupying
3,000 sq.m. The R&D facilities are being operated as per GMP
standards and a few laboratories have BSL4 standard facilities for safe
handling of pathogens.
Q How has exports contributed to the overall growth of
Mr KVB: IIL’s mandate is to export its vaccines only after meeting the
domestic requirements. The company has focused on building a strong
presence for its two flagship vaccines – Raksha FMD and Abhayrab in
several international markets. IIL exports its products to about 40
countries with the Asian region accounting for bulk of the sales. We
are the largest animal health product exporter from India.
Q What are the company’s expansion plans for 2011?
Mr KVB: The company is investing about $32.6 million for a
manufacturing facility at the Karkapatla Biotech Park near Hyderabad to
manufacture brucellosis vaccine, animal health formulations and human
rabies vaccine in the first phase. Thereafter, human health vaccines
such as Japanese encephalitis, chickungunya, hepatitis A, human
papillomavirus will be manufactured from this facility. These products
will hit the market in 2012.
Q Does IIL has any plans to enter veterinary health
services, animal and human biotherapeutics, and diagnostic products
Mr KVB: IIL has entered the veterinary health services market through
its unique concept of Raksha Veterinary Centers (R Vet Cs). R Vet Cs
are basically micro franchisee networks having veterinary clinics in
rural areas manned by qualified veterinarians, as also mobile
veterinary teams which offer quality healthcare, breeding and nutrition
services to farmers at their door steps at truly-affordable
prices. The project is currently in its final pilot phase and we
plan to expand this in the coming years.
IIL research team is also involved in the development of Granulocyte
colony-stimulating factor (GCSF). Development of diagnostics will
include interferon gamma release assay for bovine tuberculosis, Johne’s
disease, FMD and HPV diagnosis.
Q Growth in animal biologics market saw a drop last
year. Do you expect to see a revival in 2011?
Mr KVB: There was a marginal drop in animal biological market last
year, mainly due to deferment of certain vaccination programs. On
account of the expansion of the disease control program, we will see a
very strong revival in 2011. We expect animal biologicals market which
is about 50 percent of the total market currently to increase in size
and gain prominence in the coming years.
Q What are the
emerging trends in the animal vaccines market?
Mr KVB: There is a very strong initiative by the government to cover
more animal diseases simultaneously. There is also an increasing
awareness among farmers to adopt broader livestock practices and better
concern for animal health. As a result, we expect that the animal
health market, particularly the biological segment, will see consistent
growth between 12 and 15 percent per annum in the coming years.