Bharat Biotech bags WHO pre-qualification for typhoid vaccine
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday announced that it prequalified the first conjugate vaccine for typhoid - Bharat Biotech's Typbar-TCV. The WHO says TCVs (Typhoid Conjugate Vaccines) are innovative products having long-lasting immunity than other vaccines, require fewer doses, and can be given to children through routine immunisation programmes. The WHO prequalification means the medicine meets acceptable standards of quality, safety, and efficacy, and can be procured by UN agencies like UNICEF and Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance).
The vaccine can be given to babies between the age of 6 months and 2 years, and can also be administered on adults. Typhoid is a serious and, sometimes, fatal disease spread through contaminated food and water. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea. For millions of people living in low and middle-income countries, typhoid is an ever present reality. Global estimates of the typhoid burden range between 11 and 20 million cases, and between about 1,28,000 and 1,61,000 typhoid deaths annually. Poor communities and vulnerable groups, such as children, are often the most susceptible.
Vaccine in Indian market for 3 years
Earlier, Krishna Ella, chairman and managing director of Bharat Biotech said the vaccine had been in the Indian market for the past three years. The company, said Ella, had been working on this vaccine for the past 14 years and had invested its own resources to the tune of Rs 150 crore. "Earlier there was no vaccine available for children in the age bracket of 6 months to 2 years," said Ella.
Ella, however, was not willing to share any numbers on the revenues, margins, and the revenue contribution for the firm from the "private market" sales of its products. The vaccine is sold in India at a Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of Rs 1,500 at private stores.
So isn't it expensive? Ella said the company could reduce the price if the "volumes pick up", though he wished the government took up typhoid vaccine in its public health programme. On asking if the vaccine was not included in the government health programme, Ella told Business Today the company would explore the private market fully and put more resources into research and development. "We have never declared dividend so far and we are debt-free," he says.