S. Korea's EuBiologics wins nod as WHO cholera vaccine supplier

South Korea's EuBiologics has won World Health Organization approval as the third company to supply oral cholera vaccines for its global campaign just as a massive effort in Iraq ended, leaving stocks nearly depleted.

The contract research and manufacturing organization, based in the Seoul suburb of Anyang, joins India's Shantha Biotechnics based in Hyderabad and Sweden's Crucell as approved suppliers, according to AFP.

The Paris-based news agency said Shantha, wholly owned by Sanofi ($SNY), made three million doses of the two-dose treatment, while Crucell does not currently contribute to stockpile supplies.

"The addition of an additional pre-qualified vaccine producer is expected to double global supply to 6 million doses for 2016, with the potential for further increased production in the future," WHO said in a release. "This additional capacity will contribute to reversing a vicious cycle of low demand, low production, high price and inequitable distribution, to a virtuous cycle of increased demand, increased production, reduced price and greater equity of access."

AFP said that a campaign focused on Iraq--a priority country after over 2,800 cases of cholera were detected in 2015--ended in December. Globally, cholera outbreaks, which lead to severe diarrhea, can hit from 1.4 million to 4.3 million cases in a year and lead to more than 140,000 deaths, WHO said in its release.

"Access to OCV [oral cholera vaccine] has been further improved by a commitment of U.S.$115 million over 5 years from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to expand availability and the use of vaccine in countries with endemic cholera," WHO said in the release.

In December last year, Cerberus Capital-backed U.S. biotech PaxVax, based in Redwood City, CA, received a U.S. Food and Drug Administration review acceptance of a Biologics License Application for cholera vaccine candidate Vaxchora.

Other drugmakers such as Merck ($MRK) and Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical are looking at low-cost cholera vaccines in partnerships with smaller players.

- here's the AFP story via Yahoo
- and the WHO release