Merck plans big vaccine expansion in India

Merck is beefing up its sales and marketing forces in India as it aims at evolving into the country's biggest vaccine supplier by 2013. According to a report by FinancialWire, Merck says it will hire some 1,500 people in India as it expands on the two vaccines it already markets on the subcontinent. The pharma giant is following in the footsteps of GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi-Aventis, which have already established ambitious vaccine groups in India.

Slightly more than a third of the country's 1 billion citizens are under the age of 14, offering a huge market for pediatric vaccines. One in six Indians are under the age of six. And the government has been conducting mass education campaigns aimed at educating its huge population about the need for vaccines.

India, meanwhile, has already established a reputation as a low-cost center for vaccine manufacturing and research. According to a report from the research firm RNCOS, roughly two thirds of the low-cost vaccines made in India are exported to other countries.

- read the report from Trading Markets