20, February 2010
By Arun Ram
Govt Vaccine Units To Resume Production; Pvt Players To Make High-End Drugs
In an order dated February 12, universal immunisation programme director Sanjay Prasad has asked directors of the public sector labs to resume operations using existing stocks and raw materials. However, the labs, which suspended production in January 2008, will resume full-fledged production only after meeting the good manufacturing practices (GMP) norms specified by the WHO, which is also a consultant for the revival.
“Until now it looked like either it was the public labs or the private park. We’ve decided to have both. The public labs will provide life-saving vaccines at low costs, while the vaccine park will house Indian and multinational companies that will introduce high-end combination vaccines in the country,” a health ministry official told TOI.
Confirming that she has received the revocation order, BCG Lab director Usha Soren Singh said the lab is looking forward to resuming production.
“The vaccine park may take two to three years to come up. However, we need to have interim production. With the existing staff, it would be tough,” she said.
CRI, meanwhile, will soon start supplying from its stockpile of vaccines before resuming production using existing raw materials. “Supply of vaccines will begin on Monday. We are awaiting a letter of finality from the drug controller general of India to begin production again,” said CRI director KV Mani, adding that civil works on the new GMP-efficient facilities will be over by June and enhanced production will start by October. CRI has a stock of 7.8 million doses of DPT vaccine and seven million doses of tetanus vaccine, besides lesser stocks of vaccines against typhoid, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis.
Following the plan to revive the public labs, the cost for the Chengalpet vaccine park project has been revised from Rs 900 crore to Rs 575 crore. HLL Lifecare, the consultant for the vaccine park which will house manufacturers from within the country and abroad, is ready with a feasibility report. “The vaccine park will come up on a 100-acre plot at Chengalpet, but it will not be as big as initially planned. The park will focus on high-end pentavalent vaccines that combine immunisation against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and meningitis,” HLL Lifecare projects general manager EA Subramaniam said.
After the UPA government came to power in May 2009, moves have been afoot to revive the vaccine labs where production was suspended in January 2008 by the previous regime. The universal immunisation programme of the Centre needs 450 million doses of several vaccines every year. The government has been incurring additional expenditure of crores of rupees in the last two years on procurement of vaccines from private labs.
Back In Contention
Vaccines made at the three government labs
- BCG Lab, Chennai: Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine to treat childhood tuberculosis
- Pasteur Institute of India, Coonoor: DPT group of vaccines and anti-rabies vaccines
- Central Research Institute, Kasauli: DPT, TT, DT, typhoid, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis