GSK planning combo vax launches in India, report says

GlaxoSmithKline headquarters, Brentford, U.K.

Through its recent purchases and divestitures, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has placed an increased emphasis on its vaccines business worldwide. Now, it'll look to build its vaccine offerings in one of the world's most populous countries, with an executive this week saying the British pharma giant aims to launch in India multiple combination vaccines in the coming months.

GSK's Shafi Kolhapure

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That's the word from India's Business Standard, which reported that Shafi Kolhapure, GSK South Asia general manager of clinical R&D and medical affairs, said GSK's new pediatric shots will address diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and polio. Kolhapure told the publication that clinical trials for a four-antigen, a 5-antigen and a 6-antigen vaccine are complete and that the company is awaiting regulatory approvals, expected over the next couple of months.

With the launches, the pharma giant could see itself competing against Serum Institute of India, which has been working to undercut Big Pharma in the developing world with its low-cost vaccines; Serum is currently developing shots for HPV, pertussis and measles, FierceVaccines previously reported.

On another front in India, GSK encountered a new challenge this week as the country added Rotavac, a $1 rotavirus vaccine, to its national immunization program.

Marketed by Bharat Biotech and WHO-approved, the vaccine could pick away at the market share of Rotarix by GSK and RotaTeq by Merck ($MRK). India's Livemint reports that the Big Pharma shots cost about 2500 rupees ($38) for three doses to Rotavac's 162 rupees ($2.45).

The leading cause of diarrhea in children in India, rotavirus claims up to 78,000 lives in children under 5 each year, the country's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said.

- here's the Business Standard piece
- get more from Livemint on Rotavac

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