The latest healthcare and pharma news from India, including the opening up of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adults; the lowering of vaccine prices; and the licences granted to 19 Indian pharmaceutical firms for the generic version of Pfizer’s oral antiviral COVID-19 pill.
As of April 10, India is offering boosters to all adults, although free third doses will only be available for frontline workers and people over 60. Those outside the two priority groups will have to pay for their shots at private facilities.
The Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that the measure would be “adding an extra layer of safety.”
82 percent of the 1.85 billion vaccine doses already administered in India are the domestic-made version of the AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine called Covishield, produced by Serum Institute of India (SII).
Price cuts on COVID-19 vaccines (Reuters)
Almost in parallel to the country’s opening up of booster shots, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech have cut prices of their COVID-19 vaccines.
According to SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, the price of the AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) COVID-19 vaccine they produce under the brand name Covishield will drop to 225 rupees ($2.96) a dose from 600 rupees for private hospitals.
Bharat Biotech cut the price of its Covaxin vaccine as well from 1,200 rupees to 225 rupees per dose.
($1 = 75.9381 Indian rupees)
19 Indian pharma companies to produce and distribute Pfizer’s oral antiviral COVID-19 pill (The Economic Times)
The Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) has granted licences to 19 Indian pharmaceutical companies, including Cipla, Sun Pharma, Laurus Labs, Divi’s Laboratories, Glenmark, Emcure, Macleods, SMS Pharmaceuticals, Strides, Torrent, Cadila, Biocon, Aurobindo Pharma, Hetero, Granules, Amneal, and Viatris for the generic version of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s oral antiviral COVID-19 pill.
A United Nations-backed public health organisation working to increase access to life-saving medicines for low- and middle-income countries, the MPP previously entered into a licence agreement with PF Prism Holdings BV (Pfizer), granting it the rights to sub-license manufacture and commercialisation rights.
Pfizer’s Paxlovid includes nirmatrelvir, which inhibits a SARS-CoV-2 protein to stop the virus from replicating, and ritonavir, which slows down nirmatrelvir’s breakdown to help it stay in the body for longer period and at higher concentrations.
Cadila said it would cater to the Indian and export markets since many countries with high COVID-19 burden lacked access to effective therapy.
Incentives to domestic drugmakers for APIs (Endpoints News)
Because of a recent initiative from the Indian government, 35 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) the industry needs to produce its drugs may now be manufactured domestically.
With India depending on imports for 90% of its APIs, this initiative will offer domestic pharma companies incentives over the next six years for producing formulations, biopharmaceuticals, active pharmaceutical ingredients, key starting material, drug intermediates, and in vitro diagnostic medical devices.
SunPharma makes an exclusive licensing agreement with Lundbeck to market its own version of antidepressant Vortioxetine (The Economic Times of India)
An exclusive patent licensing agreement will allow the Indian company to market and distribute the Danish drug-maker’s Vortioxetine in India under the brand name Vortidiftm. A novel antidepressant with multimodal activity, approved to treat Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in adults, the drug is already approved in over 80 countries, including the US, EU, Canada and Australia.
“Sun Pharma is the leader in the neuro-psychiatry therapy in India and we always endeavour to bring innovative medicines that fill a need gap,” said Kirti Ganorkar, CEO of India Business, Sun Pharma.
MDD is one of the leading causes of disability, affecting approximately 246 million people globally and 35 million people in India.
Revenues of leading Indian pharma companies set to grow by six to eight percent (The Economic Times)
Revenues of leading Indian pharma companies are likely to grow by up to eight percent in the current fiscal year according to the ratings firm, Icra. From the growth of eight to ten percent in 2021-22, the revenues of Indian drug firms are expected to moderate, Icra stated, citing findings from 21 companies.