Serum Institute, Cipla partner to market flu vaccine in India

Serum Institute of India and compatriot Cipla have inked a pact to market a flu vaccine.

Serum will develop and manufacture Nasovac-S, while Cipla will market it in India, Livemint reported on Wednesday.

Cipla CEO Subhanu Saxena

"This partnership is a significant step towards making preventive healthcare accessible to a large number of Indians through Cipla's strong countrywide sales force," said Subhanu Saxena, Cipla's managing director and global CEO, told the news outlet.

Serum, one of the largest vaccinemakers worldwide, is known for its efforts to undercut Big Pharma competition. It is developing an affordable HPV vaccine to compete with Merck's ($MRK) Gardasil, as well as low-cost vaccines for measles and pertussis.

This isn't the first time that Serum and Cipla are teaming up. The two signed an agreement in November 2014 to bring low-cost vaccines to Europe. Under the terms, Cipla will seek EMA approval for Serum vaccines, and then market the approved ones in Europe.

News of early merger talks between Serum and Cipla emerged in February, with Serum Chairman Cyrus Poonawalla saying that the company would "never go up for sale," but could be open to a merger.

"We have to see how our initial partnership (in Europe) bears fruit," Poonawalla said at the time. "If it moves (in) the right direction, then maybe we'll take it to the next stage."

- read the Livemint story