Zydus Cadila ups vaccines game with programs for Ebola, Congo fever

Ebolavirus under an electron microscope--Courtesy of CDC

The latest drugmaker diving into the Ebola vaccine race? India's Zydus Cadila.

The pharma is developing jabs for the deadly virus and tick-borne viral Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, The Times of India reports. The latter will protect against disease, while the Ebola vaccine will be a preventative as well as a therapeutic vaccine.

As Pankaj Patel, Cadila's chairman and managing director, told the paper, the company hopes to launch the pair in 2016 or 2017. "They are currently in the pre-clinical stage and the developmental work is being carried out at our research center in Italy," he said.

While the company expects to find plenty of domestic demand for the Congo fever vaccine, the Ebola prospect could find a strong export market, TOI notes. The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 8,000 of the 20,000-plus people it has infected, according to the CDC.

But Cadila may find a crowded market by the time it gets its prospect through the clinic. Big guns GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Merck ($MRK) and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) are already trialing candidates of their own in humans, and a number of smaller companies--including Novavax ($NVAX) and Profectus Biosciences--are working on products, too.

The two new programs aren't the company's first foray into the vaccine field. It's got a number of candidates under development to address diseases including typhoid, hepatitis B, A and E, Japanese encephalitis and HPV.

Its fellow Indian companies have made their fair share of vaccines headlines lately, too. In November, generics maker Cipla struck a deal with the Serum Institute of India to market its vaccines in Europe; less than two weeks prior, Sanofi ($SNY)-owned Shantha Biotechnics finally rolled out its long-delayed low-cost pentavalent in its home country.

- read the Times of India story

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