• 15 June 2006
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Serum Institute of India

The vaccines maker is all set for a big leap.

Vaccine Czar

Vaccine Czar

The vaccines maker is all set for a big leap.

Serum Institute of India has emerged as the top biotech company in the country with record sales of Rs 703 crore in 2005-06, registering 39.21 percent growth, against the previous fiscal's growth of 2.85 percent. During 2004-05, Serum Institute of India's sales touched Rs 505 crore. Over 80 percent of its sales came from overseas markets. Serum Institute of India leads the industry with a range of vaccines-Rubella, BCG Vaccine, Measles, MMR and HepB. It has not only made the Indian market place competitive, but also the India brand shining.

Serum's prescription to success has been affordable prices, high on quality, high on innovation, and higher volumes. Another reason for Serum's success stems from its habit of coming out with new products at regular intervals. For example, in 2005, it launched vaccines like Td-Vac, the country's first indigenous Tetanus and Diptheria (Td) vaccine for adults and adolescents and Q-Vac, DTP and Hepatitis B combination vaccine.

Td-Vac, (Tetanus and Diphtheria) vaccine is for combating the fatal Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td) in adolescents and adults. The Td vaccine is different from the normal DT (dual antigen) vaccine used in children. This new Td vaccine will replace the existing usage of TT (Tetanus) vaccine, which is normally given post-injury. Every person traveling to the US has to prove that he or she has received Td vaccine dose. While the Td-Vac comes at Rs 7.50 and provides safety against Td, the Tetanus (TT) vaccine is priced at Rs 6.50. Hence, the patient receives protection against two diseases at the cost of just one.

Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, Chairman, Serum Institute of India Ltd, noted, "Serum Institute has always looked at launching international-standard life saving vaccines in the Indian market."

Its quadravalent combination vaccine, Q-Vac is for protection against Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTP) and Hepatitis B. It supplied over 100,000 doses of Q-Vac within the first week of the launch of the product. A team of 14 scientists led by Dr Cyrus Poonawalla worked on the Q-Vac for four years to develop it. Serum Institute has invested about Rs 50 crore in developing this vaccine that shared the BioSpectrum Product of the Year Award for 2005. With Q-Vac, immunization for a child will be less painful as the number of pricks will be reduced to only three instead of the six administered today. Q-Vac is priced at Rs 50 per dose, which is one-fourth the cost of the available vaccines in the Indian market. On low pricing of the products, Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, said, "We want the benefits of combination vaccines to be within the reach of the common man."

Since its inception, Serum Institute has given great importance to its R&D function. It instituted "Serum Institute of India Research Foundation", a distinctly separate autonomous body, as early as in 1977 to focus on research in medical sciences and in natural and applied sciences.

Serum Institute's millennium endeavor is to produce vaccines that would be administered to up to 75 percent of the new-borns of the world. At present Serum Institute of India has established itself as the world's largest producer of Measles and DTP group of vaccines. According to some estimates, two out of every three children immunized in 2004 with a vaccine, received one manufactured by Serum Institute. Its range of products has been in use in 140 countries around the world.

Serum International Ltd, Serum Institute of India's marketing arm to sell research-based products of Serono, Switzerland, recorded sales of Rs 39 crore only compared to 2004-05 sales of Rs 60 crore. The reason for the drop is mainly because the management wants to now focus on launching its own indigenous products.

Serum Institute of India now is thinking beyond. It announced the setting up of the country's first biotech SEZ, Serum Bio Pharma Park at Pune, on February 23, 2006. The Park is located in Hadapsar, adjoining Serum Institute's existing manufacturing unit. It would invest about Rs 1,200 crore to develop the park. The entire project will be completed in phases by 2010.

Considering the services rendered by Serum Institute of India to the society, Albert B Sabin Vaccine Institute a non-profit public organization based at New York, USA has selected Serum Institute of India for its Global Corporate Philanthropy Award 2005.

Sabin Vaccine Institute, USA, also honoured Dr Cyrus Poonawalla with the Humanitarian Award for providing quality vaccines at affordable prices.

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