`Quality of vaccines produced in India becoming a concern`

Last Updated: Feb 10, 2012, 09:04 AM IST

Hyderabad: Though Indian companies produce vaccines in large quantities and at affordable prices, the quality of some was becoming a cause of worry, GAVI Alliance CEO Seth Berkley said today.

"India companies are coming out on their own and they are making more and more of the global market. Though, we have seen some issues over quality in some companies in India and some companies have been delisted by the WHO. Making sure of
quality is absolutely critical for vaccines," he told reporters on the sidelines of the ninth edition of three-day BioAsia, the annual global bio business forum, that began here this evening.

GAVI or Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation is engaged in funding vaccines for children in the world`s 70 poorest countries. WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are among those supporting GAVI`s mission.

Asked if the quality issue will dent the image of Indian vaccine makers, Berkley said ...that is certainly the worry. One of the reasons it is critical to have high quality because
India produces large quantity vaccines and at inexpensive price. Of course nobody has been harmed by these vaccines and issue is over quality control procedures.

India has emerged as a global supplier and leader in vaccine science, but, in vaccine field, quality is the key and quality control measures should meet the standards, he pointed
out and stressed on the role of Indian government and its National Regulatory Agency to ensure quality.

Stating that India’s strong vaccine manufacturing capacity and quality was essential to the world and to the GAVI Alliance, he further said "It’s clear that Indian manufacturers can produce vaccines that need high quality standards, appropriate to specific countries standards and at sustainable prices through reliable supplies."

ABCReacting to another query, he said "We do not purchase vaccine for the global market unless the vaccine manufacturers are pre-qualified by the WHO," he said adding one of the challenges is to make adequate investment to maintain quality.

He said they were working with range of suppliers in India and will have discussions with numerous companies over procurements during the event.

Earlier, speaking after being presented with the Genome Valley Excellence Awards 2012, Berkley appreciated the Indian efforts (government and people) for success in polio
eradication. The focus should be now on elimination of Measles. "It is important to deal with Measles and there has been intensification of campaign against Measles in India," he said.

He, however, said that "It`s really a shame that today India has more than one-third of the world`s unimmunised children. We clearly need to do better."

Vaccine science right now was at a very interesting and unprecedented juncture and there has been an explosion in vaccine R&D as the number of new vaccines in the pipeline is huge, he said.

"In the coming years, we hope to see vaccines against malaria and hopefully in the distant future against HIV, TB and dengue," he said.

Earlier, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar inaugurated the `BioAsia-2012`.

Sri Lanka`s Senior Minister for Science and Technology Tissa Vitarana were among those who spoke.

Over 250 companies and delegates from 35 countries are participating in the event.

PTI