21 Aug 2013

Anti-Measles Tie-Up: Croatia Steps in to Aid HLL subsidiary

Five years ago, Croatia was gripped by a state of panic as two geographically unrelated belts of the European country began reporting increasing cases of measles. The dreaded viral infection of the respiratory system spread in scenic Slavonski Brod and national capital Zagreb in 2008 April. It did subside within two months, but the Croatian Ministry of Health has since been extra-vigilant about a recurrence of the dreaded disease which manifests with body rashes besides fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes.
Today, the Mediterranean-climate country is providing a virtual balm to the population in tropical India.   HLL Biotech Ltd (HBL), the subsidiary company of HLL Lifecare Ltd., will receive help from Croatia on the manufacture of vaccines for measles. HBL has entered into a long-term supply and technology license agreement with Institute of Immunology, Zagreb (IMZ) for the manufacture of measles vaccines in India.
If HBL is particularly upbeat about the path-breaking pact; there are definite reasons to it. HBL notes that the just-signed collaboration with IMZ is the start of a broader mission which aims to primarily strengthen the Immunization program of India.
“Our agreement with IMZ is the first major project milestone in HBL’s vaccine technology collaboration intending to help protect children in India and other developing markets from measles,” notes Dr. M. Ayyappan, Chairman of HBL.
As per the statistics of 2011, India had 6.7 million children who are yet to receive vaccination for measles. Experts say this could be the cause of a recent outbreak of the disease, wherein the country registered a total number of 29,339 measles cases.
Dr. Ayyappan said as per the understanding, the IMZ will supply the bulk of the vaccine to HBL. It will be formulated and filled at our facility in India,” he reveals, having signed the MoU with IMZ Director Mr. Davorin Gajnik. The function was held in the presence of Croatia’s Economy Minister Mr. Ivan Vrdoljak.
The HLL C&MD notes that measles is a cause of worry not just for India; it remains an important cause of death among young children globally. “MDG 4 (The Fourth Millennium Development Goal) aims to reduce the mortality rate of children below five years of age — by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. Measles immunization directly contributes to the reduction of under-five child mortality, and hence contributes to the achievement of MDG 4”, he adds.
Mr. Gajnik says the contract for transfer of technology provides long-term cooperation between the two companies. “It will take place in three phases”, he adds.
Currently, India makes 80 million doses of anti-measles vaccine for the domestic market. “I hope the country-to-country cooperation now gets extended to the markets of China and economies in the region,” he says.
Mr Vrdoljak says India, with over 1.2 billion people, is “just opening the door” to Croatia’s potential.
On his part, Dr. Ayyappan finds that the technology collaboration with IMZ will be a turning point in India’s immunization program. “Both the government organizations are looking forward for long-term association for manufacturing different vaccines for immunization program and other new generation vaccines,” he says.
IMZ has its own master measles virus seed known and recognized throughout the world. “Since the seed and technology for measles from IMZ is already registered in India, it will save time and cost for development of measles vaccine by HBL, thereby making it both available and affordable to millions,” he adds.
The Government of India requires approximately 70-80 million doses per annum of measles vaccine. Thus, the collaboration with IMZ will help HBL manufacture and supply a major share of measles vaccine to GOI.
IMZ, which is among Europe’s oldest manufacturers of immunobiological medicines, is the primer provider for measles vaccine strains in most part of the world.