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Indian Company Plans To Make Lower-Cost Injectable Polio Vaccine

Serum Institute of India Ltd., the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, plans to “slash the price of polio immunization and introduce shots for diarrhea and pneumonia, undercutting Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc.,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports. According to Cyrus Poonawalla, founder of the company, Serum Institute “will use last year’s acquisition of a Dutch vaccine business to add the injectable form of polio inoculation to the oral drops the Pune, India-based company supplies to organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund, he said,” the news service notes. “Serum Institute will enter the injectable polio vaccine market with a shot costing as little as 0.7 euros (93 cents) in multi-dose vials,” compared with the current price of about 2.5 euros ($3.32) per shot, the news service writes.

“The plan by Serum Institute, which says it supplies vaccines used to immunize two out of three children worldwide, will ‘revolutionize’ efforts to eradicate polio … , said Bruce Aylward, assistant director-general at the World Health Organization,” Bloomberg writes, adding, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a key funder of the effort to exterminate the malady, has backed the proposal as oral drops, made of live virus, carry the risk of infection.” The company plans to begin selling a vaccine for rotavirus in 2015 and a pneumococcal vaccine in 2016, the news service notes (Gokhale, 1/22).