Serum Institute launches vaccines for rabies and rotavirus; more in pipeline


Pune-based vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India has launched two more vaccines – for rotavirus causing diarrhoea and rabies – and is working on a few more from dengue to cervical cancer.

The newly developed Rabishield anti rabies vaccine is claimed to be the  world’s first recombinant rabies monoclonal antibody to prevent Rabies, a fatal disease which is estimated to cause two deaths every hour in India. Rabishield has been developed in research partnership with Massachusetts Medical School, USA.

“Rabishield is a first-of-its-kind product for passive immunization against rabies. Since the new drug will be 25 percent cheaper than the existing rabies immunoglobulins, it would meet the needs of the poor countries,” said Adar Poonawalla, Chief Executive Officer, Serum Institute of India, while launching the vaccines in Mumbai.

‘Rotasiil’ rotavirus vaccine is claimed to be the world’s first thermostable pentavalent Rotavirus vaccine containing the G9 strain to help prevent the spread of rotavirus which causes diarrhoea mostly in babies and is often accompanied by vomiting and fever, leading to severe dehydration. It is reported that around 100,000 rotavirus related deaths occur in India.

Poonawalla said Serum’s scientists have been working on this rotavirus vaccine for the last eight years and the heat-stable vaccine was developed to overcome the absence of cold-chain in many poor countries.

Serum Institute is also planning to launch a biologic drug for dengue in two years, in partnership with a US company Visterraand. The company is also developing a dengue vaccine, which may be developed in three to four years. Serum is also working on to launch 3-4 new vaccines, including for cervical cancer, pneumococcal and meningitis, said Adar Poonawalla.

The privately held Rs 4,000 crore revenue company hopes to reach over Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years with the new launches and sales in developed markets. Started in 1966 by Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla, Serum Institute of India sells about 1.3 billion doses of different a year globally across 147 countries. About 65 per cent children in the world is estimated to have received at least one vaccine made by Serum, whose products are available in over 147 countries.

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