New Delhi: Hyderabad based biotechnology firm, Bharat Biotech is likely to face setback as the Government plans to impose a ban on export of anti-rabies vaccine. According to a recent media report, in the wake of acute shortage of the drug across the country, the Government has proposed to ban the export of the vaccine, which is expected to be implemented shortly.
“The health ministry has drawn a proposal, which has been sent to the law ministry for vetting. Once we get a go ahead from there, it will be notified,” a senior official confirmed to TOI.
It is learnt through the media report that though there are around five vaccine manufacturers in the country, however, 20-80% shortage in anti-rabies vaccines is witnessed in almost all states.
Besides Bharat Biotech, there exist other vaccine manufacturers in the country including major drug makers like Serum Institute and Indian Immunologicals.
The ban, if imposed, would greatly quake the business of Bharat Biotech as the company had recently announced the acquisition of Chiron Behring Vaccines Pvt Ltd, a move that would make Bharat Biotech the world’s largest maker of rabies vaccines.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India accounts for 36% of rabies deaths that occur worldwide each year. While one can develop the disease if bitten or scratched by any rabid mammal, such as a monkey or a bat, WHO says dogs contribute up to 99% of all rabies transmitted to humans; and children are the usual victims.
Government estimates show the five companies together manufacture 50 million doses of anti-rabies vaccine in India against yearly demand of 48 million. Sadly, more than 30% of the production is exported to countries across the world where they fetch a higher price.
However, many dispensaries and Government hospitals across the country have been facing an acute dearth of anti-rabies vaccine for almost a year now.
“The vaccine is not even easily available in the open market. We have raised the issue with the government’s central procurement agency, but even it has not received the supply,” doctors from central as well as Delhi government hospitals told TOI.
In fact, the situation has turned so grave that a recent tender for government procurement of the vaccine by the Delhi Government did not receive participation from any of the companies.
Providing treatment to the victims, within 10 days of infection, is considered an effective way of protecting people. However, the shortage of anti-rabies vaccine has raised concerns among both the medical fraternity as well as the government.
In the Indian market, the vaccine costs around Rs 300 while it is provided free of cost in government hospitals.
Meghna A Singhania
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