Sanofi's Shantha Biologics to build insulin plant in India

Sanofi ($SNY) bought control of Shantha Biotechnics in 2009 as a way to access low-cost vaccine manufacturing in India. Now the drugmaker will use the subsidiary to expand insulin production.

K. I. Varaprasad Reddy

This week, Shantha Biotechnics kicked off work on a 460 crore ($75 million) plant in Medak, the Business Standard reports. The plant, which will make the human insulin Insuman, is expected to be online in 2019 and will eventually have the capacity to make up to 60 million cartridges annually, K. I. Varaprasad Reddy, founder and chairman of Shantha, told the publication.

Sanofi, which now has full ownership of Shantha, has had its ups and downs since buying control of the vaccinemaker 6 years ago. In 2010, UNICEF and WHO recalled and destroyed about 24 million doses of Shantha's low-cost pentavalent Shan5 based on reports of white sediment in vials. When the drugmaker was unable to hit their deadline for identifying and fixing the issues, it lost its qualification as a supplier. It took some effort, but the vaccinemaker regained that status last year and in November started production and sales of Shan5.

Production from the new insulin plant will come online as India, like much of the world, wrestles with growing numbers of Type 2 diabetes cases. According to stats cited by the Business Standard, there are about 65 million people with diabetes in India, and that number is expected to grow to 109 million by 2035.

- here's the Business Standard story