Hyderabad-based vaccine company Bharat Biotech's co-founder Krishna Ella, the scientist-turned entrepreneur, harbours hopes of making a major dent in the Indian and global vaccine space. On February 15, he seems to have taken an important step in this direction with the announcement that Bharat Biotech was acquiring Chiron Behring Vaccines Pvt Ltd, located in Ankleshwar, Gujarat from GlaxoSmithKline Asia. Ella said the deal, which gives Bharat Biotech 100 per cent equity stake in Chiron Behring Vaccines in an all cash transaction of undisclosed amount, makes Bharat have within its fold the largest capacity in the world to make rabies vaccine.
Sharing this with journalists in Hyderabad, Ella said there was shortage of rabies vaccines in markets abroad and in India. This was a serious problem in the country with some 1.7 million dog bites happening every year.
"With this, our combined capacity will be 25 million doses. The country however needs about 35 million doses," he said.
Chary, as always, about sharing any financial performance numbers or those about the deal with GSK, he limited himself to saying that at around Rs 200 per dose, it was a Rs 700 crore market in India alone. About the facility that he was acquiring and in race with several other vaccine makes, he refuted any perception that there were quality issues with the unit. We also understand that GSK did not part with its own rabies vaccine brand and that Chiron Behring Vaccines will retain its name and a separate identity from Bharat Biotech. At its peak, this entity could achieve a turnover as high as Rs 200 crore, he said without elaborating further on the numbers.
On the growth aspirations, he said, Bharat Biotech was working towards expanding its portfolio and that in the next three to four years, hoped to have a portfolio more wider than some of the leading global MNCs in the space.
"Today, we have 16 vaccines and in three to four years got to a portfolio of about 22 vaccines," he said.
Significant among them today are the WHO pre-qualified vaccines Bipolio, Rotavac and Typbar TVC to combat polio, rotavirus, typhoid infections respectively, he said.
Bharat Biotech, which he co-founded with his wife Suchitra Ella in 1997, has all along focussed on neglected diseases and on emerging markets, Ella said. A note shared by the company says Chiron Behring Vaccines is a WHO pre-qualified manufacturer of rabies vaccines, eligible for supplies to UN agencies and has product registrations in more than 20 countries.
Bharat Biotech, the note says, has a wide portfolio of vaccines, with market access to more than 70 countries. The addition of this rabies vaccine will establish Bharat Biotech as a global leader in rabies vaccines manufacturing. Bharat Biotech plans to enhance upon the manufacturing capabilities at Chiron Behring Vaccines and expand market access through product registrations in additional high demand countries.
Referring to a WHO report, the statement says that rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease claiming the lives of over 55,000 people each year, mostly in Asia and Africa. India accounts for 36 per cent of the world's rabies deaths.