We target complex drugs with limited competition

Rajesh Jain, joint managing director of Panacea Biotec, the second-largest vaccine maker in the country, talks about the company's plans to diversify into hospital business in an interview with Soma Das. He also talks about the significance of the Indian drug regulatory system passing the World Health Organisation audit. Edited excerpts:

The Indian drug regulator has just passed the WHO audit. What does this mean for the R19,000-crore domestic vaccine industry?

It is a great development for the drug regulator as well as the industry. It demonstrates the commitment of India to produce drugs of high quality at affordable prices. It marks a radical turning point. It was only a few years back that the drug regulator had failed the WHO inspection. It was unfortunate and actually threatened the vaccine exports from the country, which were on the verge of being banned on the pretext of our regulations being weak. So it comes as a reassurance to the global community on the quality of drugs being produced in India. This is particularly significant as India is already source to around 70% of vaccines in the developing countries (in volume terms). The Drug Controller General of India can now guide many of the regulators in other developing markets, specially neighbouring countries that have embarked on the path of strengthening their drug regulatory frameworks.

Could you give the specifics of the latest polio vaccine order that you bagged from the government?

Our company has got government orders for supply of 345 million doses of Trivalent oral polio vaccines and bivalent oral polio vaccine of over R187 crore to be supplied during the period December 2012 till May 2013 to meet the requirements of national immunisation days and supplementary national immunisation days. Of this, 80% would be shipped over next three months and orders worth R167 crore should be supplied by February.

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