Delhi-based Hilleman Laboratories announced that it plans to invest around Rs 300 crore in the next 4-5 years to develop low-cost vaccines to treat diseases like cholera and meningitis.
The company is a 50:50 joint venture between MSD Pharmaceuticals and UK-based Wellcome Trust.
"We are spending around Rs 300 crore over the next 4-5 years to develop low-cost vaccines. We are developing vaccines to treat rotavirus, cholera and meningitis," said Hilleman CEO Davinder Gill.
"For research, we are looking for partners namely pharma companies, vaccine specialty companies and Government agencies to collaborate and fund the project. We had received foundational grants from MSD Pharmaceuticals and Wellcome Trust, but now we want to be financially independent," he said.
MSD Pharmaceuticals and Wellcome Trust invested around Rs 700 crore nearly five years ago in the company which is now valued at around Rs 900 crore, he added.
MSD Pharmaceuticals (also known as Merck Sharp & Dohme or MSD in many parts of the world) is an affiliate of Merck & Co Inc. "Normally, there is a large capital investment required for creating vaccines. We, however, have taken an approach that will allow the vaccines to be created at a lesser cost thus providing a boost to manufacturers, who can use synthetic platform technology," Gill said.
The company is developing a synthetic vaccine to fight meningitis in Asian, African and Latin American countries.
"We are developing a vaccine for rotavirus, which would be heat-resistant and easy to carry. We have already started clinical trials and it will be ready in 3-4 years," Gill said.
As per the development plan, Medicine in Need, a not- for-profit research organization, will make available the company its formulation technology, while MSD would provide components of its existing rotavirus vaccine, he added.