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Mankind Pharma in talks to distribute Sputnik V, says open to pacts for other COVID-19 vaccines

The Drug Controller General of India on April 12 approved the emergency use authorisation of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

April 22, 2021 / 12:42 PM IST
Representative image: Sputnik V

Representative image: Sputnik V

 
 
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Mankind Pharma, one of India's largest privately held drug makers, on April 21 said that it is in discussions to distribute Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

The company said currently there is a discussion between the Indian and Russian governments for supplies and the pricing.

"Once this is completed we may get into action," said Arjun Juneja, Director of Operations, Mankind Pharma.

Juneja said while so far they held talks for the distribution of Sputnik V, they are also more than open to distribute other COVID-19 vaccines.

"We are the most deep-rooted pharma company in India with presence in the smallest of the villages and towns. We have a vast distribution network of wholesalers and stockists. We work with more than 60 carrying and forwarding (C&F) agents across the country. More than 60-70 percent of revenues come from smaller towns and villages," Juneja said.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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He also welcomed the government's decision to open the market for vaccinations.

"India can't be compared to other countries, it is complex and huge. So both the government and private sector need to work together for the successful rollout of the vaccination," Juneja said.

Mankind would be ending FY22 with sales of Rs 7,500 crore, and about 70 percent of the sales come from acute segments such as antibiotics, painkillers, and vitamins and the rest came from drugs for chronic ailments such as diabetes, cardiac and respiratory illnesses.

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on April 12 approved the emergency use authorisation of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

Sputnik V vaccine will be the third COVID-19 vaccine to be made available in India.

Dr Reddy's and the Russian Sovereign Wealth Fund RDIF have indicated that Sputnik V vaccine will be rolled out in India by the end of May. Dr Reddy's will import it from Russia in the first quarter of FY22, before the local production kicks in.

India is the leading production hub for Sputnik V. RDIF has reached agreements with major pharmaceutical companies in the country such as Gland Pharma, Hetero Biopharma, Panacea Biotec, Stelis Biopharma, Virchow Biotech and Shilpa to produce more than 850 million doses per year, sufficient to vaccinate more than 425 million people around the world.

Drug discovery foray

Mankind had sought permission from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to conduct human trials to test a novel first-in-class anti-diabetes molecule called MKP10241. The oral small molecule developed at the Mankind Research Centre is a GPR119 agonist class drug.

GPR 119 which is highly expressed in pancreatic beta cells and intestinal enteroendocrine cells, will be effective in lowering blood sugar levels, the company said.

 
Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Apr 21, 2021 03:37 pm

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