Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech developed the first India-made Rotavirus vaccine. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi launched the vaccine, which prevents Rotavirus infection and is in the process of being introduced into national immunization programme of India.
Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech, said, "The vaccine, branded Rotavac, will be sold to public health programmes in developing countries at about $1 a dose." Three doses have to be administered and the price of the existing products is in the range of Rs 1,050 to Rs 1,150 per dose.
Over Rs 400 crore was invested and more than 15 years of research has gone into the development of the vaccine. The investment was partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the department of biotechnology and also got support from various international agencies.
"In 2001, I made a commitment to the Gates Foundation to develop and supply a novel Rotavirus vaccine at $1 a dose for government programmes. The price of the vaccine in the retail market, however, is going to match the price charged by multinational competitors US-based Merck Sharp & Dohme and British firm GlaxoSmithKline for the same product," Ella indicated.
Bharat Biotech has got multiple patents for the drug in over 50 countries, including the US, several European countries and Japan. "Our Hyderabad-based facility has the capacity to make over 300 million doses per year and we are in talks with some developing countries besides international agencies to export the vaccine but those opportunities will take a year and half probably to fructify," said Ella.