At long last, Sanofi launches low-cost pentavalent in India

Shantha CEO Harish Iyer

It's been a long road for Shan5, the low-cost pentavalent from Sanofi-owned Shantha Biotechnics. Now, after manufacturing tie-ups four years ago cost the company a $340 million contract to supply the vaccine, it's finally rolling out the product in India.

With the launch, 27 million babies born annually in India will now have access to the 5-in-1 shot, which protects children against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hib and hepatitis B, according to Shantha CEO Harish Iyer.

"By launching the vaccine Shantha will be contributing to filling this immunization gap for the benefit of babies and their parents," he said in a statement, as quoted by Business Standard.

And it won't stop there, the Indian paper notes. In May, the vaccine nabbed World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification, which opens the door for purchases in more than 50 emerging and low-income countries.

But Shantha hasn't always had WHO's favor. In 2010, UNICEF and WHO recalled and destroyed about 24 million doses of Shan5 based on reports of white sediment in vials. The move affected vaccination programs in 7 countries, and when the Hyderabad-based vaccinemaker couldn't meet the organizations' deadline for identifying the source of the problem and formulating a corrective plan, they disqualified it as a supplier.

Now, however, Shan5 is ready to roll thanks to some manufacturing process tweaks, higher quality standards and oversight from parent Sanofi ($SNY), and Shantha--and Sanofi--are ready to reap the rewards. Last year, Iyer predicted Shantha's $18.5 million in sales would multiply fivefold with Shan5's return, validating Sanofi's 2009 move to buy an 80% stake in the company.

- read the Business Standard story

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