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Apr 03, 2012, 09.10 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Shantha Biotech to launch 5-in-1 pediatric vaccine

The world of pediatric vaccines is about to be shaken. And it's Hyderabad based Shantha Biotech that's going to do all the shaking

The world of pediatric vaccines is about to be shaken. And it's Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotech that's going to do all the shaking, reports CNBC-TV18's Appaji Reddem and Animesh Das.

Offices belonging to Hyderabad-based Shanta Biotech look calm from the outside, but inside, plans are brewing to take the pediatric vaccine market by storm. This Sanofi-Aventis-owned drug manufacturer is all set to launch Pentavalent, a single vaccine aimed at protecting children from five illnesses- Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenzae. This launch will bring global prices for the vaccine down drastically.

Harish V Iyer, managing director and chief executive officer of Shantha Biotech says, "One assumption you have to make in this market unfortunately is that the prices may come down. We are thinking in those lines and I don't want to speculate on where the prices would end up."

This will be the second time Shanta Biotech launches this vaccine.
It's first attempt had to be aborted after the World Health Organization (WHO) recalled the vaccine due to concerns over quality issues. Shanta now says the new process prescribed by WHO has been implemented and is betting on competitive pricing to corner a major piece of the international Penta and Hexavalent vaccine market, and giving competitors like Serum Institute and Panacea Biotec a run for their money. Shanta says prices could fall to below USD 2 a dose. It is also betting on high demand in India to boost sales.

"25 million children are born every year," says Iyer. "If you assume three doses, 75 million is the opportunity in India every year. Depending upon the rates of coverage and how thing work out, it could be somewhere in the range of 25-50 million at least if you assume 50% penetration," he says.

Shanta Biotech will invest over USD 300 million on a vaccine manufacturing facility at Hyderabad to supplement vaccine production.

Government of India had included Pentavalent in its universal immunization program in Kerala and Tamil Nadu last December. The vaccine is expected to be extended to six more states. However, regulatory approvals, safety concerns and pricing will be the major challenges.

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