Earlier marketed under the trade name Rabipur, ChiroRab has been evaluated in over 25 controlled clinical trials in 5 countries in more than 7000 subjects. “I am proud to introduce the ChiroRab,” said Krishna Ella, CMD, Bharat biotech International Ltd.
The health ministry was recently in news following concerns of dwindling anti-rabies supplies and the relaunch of the vaccine is expected to curb the shortage of the vaccine. “In our ongoing commitment to address the supply shortages of rabies vaccine, we are making additional investments to increase production capacities to over 15 million doses annually,” added Ella.
“The launch of the vaccine is ‘very timely’ for a country like India,” said Renu Swarup, secretary, Department of Biotechnology. “The highest success story in product development is vaccine development. I don’t think in india we should be at any stage seeing people die because of lack of vaccines. With the kind of capacity enhancement, I am sure that the shortage of rabies vaccine would be addressed through this venture,” she said.
The vaccine is presently manufactured at the WHO pre-qualified facility in Ankleshwar in Gujarat.
“The acute shortage of vaccine In India led the government to mull a proposal of even restricting the export of the vaccine,” said former Drug controller, S Eswara Reddy.
The minutes of the meeting held on 1 April revealed that apart from Delhi, states like Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur were facing shortages.
“There is a great demand for anti-rabies vaccine. I know the difficulties we faced to make available the vaccine to all the patients. At that time we deliberated on different proposals even to restrict exports. But because of this new facility, I think the company will be able to cater to the demand of not only India but global demand too,” Reddy said.
Indian firms supply rabies vaccine to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Turkey and some African nations, among others. Significantly, India accounts for 36% of rabies deaths in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has set a target of eliminating rabies from South-East Asia by 2020.
ChiroRab supplies will be made available to government hospitals in various states through tenders, with the remaining available for the private market and exports.
“This makes me hopeful for India and for the world,” said Charles Ruprecht, former chief of the RBies programme at CDC Atlanta.