Express Pharma

‘Our goal is to attain leadership in Indian veterinary vaccine segment’

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Veterinary vaccine manufacturer Biovet plans to invest Rs 200 crore for further expansion and aims to capture 50 per cent market share in the next two years. Dr Panduranga Rao Pavuluri, Vice President- Production, Biovet, talks about the company’s strategy to acheive this goal and its areas of focus in an exclusive interaction with Usha Sharma

Tell us about the initiatives that Biovet has taken up. What is the objective behind making an investment of Rs 200 crores for building a new facility?
Biovet is a technology-driven company with several new products in the pipeline. Presently, we are producing veterinary vaccines. Recently, we have made an announcement of Rs 200 crores for expanding our Foot & Mouth, Brucellosis Vaccine manufacturing facilities in Malur. Out of the total, Rs 150 crore is for the construction of two production lines for foot and mouth disease vaccine. And Rs 50 crores will be invested in the construction of Brucella vaccine manufacturing facility. With the currently available line, there will be three lines dedicated to three different strains of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine.

How are you arranging for the funds?
We are arranging the required funds from internal accruals and the partial amount will be borrowed. The Fermentation technology for Brucella vaccine is developed in house, which will enable us to produce the vaccine in large scale. The technology is designed for high dense cell cultures for better production of viral vaccines.

Which vaccines will be manufactured in the new facility and by when the commercial production will begin?
From the new facility, we will be manufacturing the Brucella vaccine and veterinary vaccines for FMD. Brucella vaccine will be ready for a commercial license in the next three months. The facility is already ready and undergoing the validation process. The commercial production of the foot and mouth disease vaccine from the new facility will begin by April 2020. Under its research and development initiative, the company is developing vaccines for Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) and Classical Swine fever vaccine. And to improve the production processes, it has also initiated high dense cell cultures for bacterial and mammalian cells and Vaccine- based platform for recombinant DNA technology to develop new generation vaccines.

Why is the company focussing on developing veterinary vaccines? Are there any encouragements or initiatives made by the state or central government? Tell us more about that!
For the next five years, our emphasis is on foot and mouth disease and Brucella control. We are happy that the Central government has already taken initiatives to control animal diseases. And under this initiative, Government of India is providing 100 per cent assistance for procurement of vaccine and vaccination. Our focus is on developing veterinary vaccines.

The FMD virus is similar to Polio virus and Bharat Biotech has been playing an instrumental role in polio eradication in India. How severe is the FMD problem in India and will it hit the country’s economy?
FMD and polio viruses belong to the same family but they are not similar. Let us not mingle each other. FMD vaccine is highly contagious and in unvaccinated animals, it may affect virtually 100 per cent. It causes disease in cattle- buffaloes, sheep, goat, pigs- and wild animals. The total estimated losses due to FMD in India are estimated at about Rs 25000 crores per year. Vaccination is the only control approach available. The disease has a devastating effect on the rural economy.

What are your plans to work closely with the government and how you initiate it?
We diligently work with central and state governments, animal husbandry departments and acquire vaccine strains from them. Biovet supports seminars, workshops and training camps to help veterinarians and farmers to understand the importance of vaccination.

Besides India, which other markets have FMD vaccines requirements and will you be tapping those markets as well? And how are you planning to execute them?
There is demand in the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia. We are in the process of engaging with the respective nation’s regulatory authorities and registering with several countries. At present, we are exporting to Iran and Bangladesh.

Why is vaccination better for big production animals than feed additives?
Vaccination is a preventive measure taken to make the animal resistant to infectious diseases. Well-fed animals are also susceptible to diseases if not vaccinated. Whatever the feeding status, vaccination is essential in animals.

How will vaccination for veterinary segment reduce antibiotic abuse?
Antibiotics are used to control bacterial diseases. However, antibiotics are also used indiscriminately in animals during viral infections. During the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, huge quantities of antibiotics are being used to prevent animals from contacting other diseases. Vaccination does help reduce this type of antibiotic usage.

Bio-waste is a big issue in the industry, how are you handling environmental safety issues?
Unlike the pharma industry, vaccine manufacturing is considered to be a green industry. All the wastewater is treated in our ETP plant and used for gardening and fodder development. We are not releasing any effluents. A small amount of (1-2 kg per day) biomedical waste which is produced is through Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) approved service providers. Around 95 per cent of our biomedical waste is biodegradable. We deject the use of plastics or other one time use consumables. Most of our filters are cellulose-based which is biodegradable.

What percentage of the market share has been captured by Biovest in India and what are your plans to further increase it?
Presently, we have a 25 per cent share in the large animal vaccine segment; we are targeting to touch 50 per cent in the next two years. We continue to invest in the latest technologies to improve the production and we are collaborating with national and international institutions for the development of new products.

Do you think that other pharma companies will also join this space?
The veterinary vaccine industry is a high volume and low-profit industry, and due to this, we do not expect many pharma players venturing into this market.

In India, whom do you consider as competitors?
Our motto is ‘the diseases are our competitors and we need to defeat them.’ Further, all three companies in the field i.e, Biovet, Indian immunological, Hyderabad and Brilliant Biopharma Hyderabad are unable to meet the demand in India. We are investing to create new facilities to meet this demand. Once we meet the domestic demands, we will increase our focus on export markets.

Tell us about the company future plans.
Our goal is to attain leadership in Indian veterinary vaccine segment and to expand our global footprints. We are continuously investing in introducing new technologies like high dense cultures perfusion systems to increase production. Biovet is introducing these technologies first time in the veterinary vaccine field.

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