The pandemic gave the Indian pharmaceutical sector the tailwind it desperately needed as the world looked upon India as a beacon of hope to manufacture and supply the huge number of vaccines needed to tackle the pandemic. Gaining grounds, the Indian vaccine manufacturers are rising to the occasion by either developing indigenous vaccines or collaborating with global companies for supplies across the world. The government has already announced setting up of bulk drug manufacturing parks to encourage the production of 41 essential Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and intermediaries to become self-sufficient.
Vaccine approvals and trials
At the moment, the two vaccines have been approved in India: Covaxin, developed indigenously by Bharat Biotech India Ltd (BBIL) and the state-run Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology, and Covishield (local name for Oxford-AstraZeneca), co-developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, and manufactured and marketed in India by Adar C. Poonawalla’s Serum Institute of India (SII). Both SII and BBIL, biggest players in the market, are furiously expanding their capacities to cater to the entire world.
They both have invested heavily to ramp up their capacities in Hyderabad, Pune and Bengaluru. Besides manufacturing Covishield, SII is developing four more vaccines. Of the five vaccines, three are in alliance with international pharma companies, while the remaining two are being developed indigenously.
On the other hand, BBIL is developing three more vaccines in collaboration with global players. Other Indian companies are undergoing trials and are in line for approvals. Apart from Dr Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), which is conducting clinical trials for Sputnik V in India, several other pharma companies such as Wockhardt, Zydus Cadila, Panacea Biotec, Indian Immunologicals, Mynvax, and Biological E. have joined the vaccine race.
With one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities in the world, we are well placed to deal as both importer and exporter. In December, US pharmaceutical company Ocugen signed a letter of intent to co-develop BBIL vaccine for the American market. India already supplies millions of doses to its neighbours.
The government has announced setting up of bulk drug manufacturing parks to encourage the production of 41 essential Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and intermediaries to become self-sufficient.
New entrants in vaccine market
Hyderabad-based private pharmaceutical company Hetero will manufacture over 100 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine a year and is also set to deliver 20,000 vials of its antiviral drug Covifor (remdesivir) across the country. Hetero, Cipla and Jubilant Life Sciences had entered into non-exclusive licensing agreements with drug major Gilead Sciences Inc for manufacturing and distribution of remdesivir.
Virchow Biotech, who has also signed a deal with Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) to contract-manufacture Sputnik V, is developing a vaccine indigenously in association with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) under the World Bank-funded National Biopharma Mission (NBM). Meanwhile, domestic and International players have been scouting deals to enter the market. Recently, Johnson & Johnson showed interest in manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine in India. Tata Medical & Diagnostics, a newly formed subsidiary of Tata Sons, is also said to have started initial discussions with US company Moderna for a partnership to launch its vaccine in India.