The company’s venture into Asia – a $784m (€575m) acquisition of Shantha Biotechnics – suffered a blow in April 2010 when the pre-qualification for Shan5 combination vaccine was cancelled by the World Health Organization (WHO) , due to manufacturing defects.
Now through the new facility, said to be Asia’s biggest, Sanofi’s vaccine manufacturing business hopes to capitalise on the need for quality low-cost vaccines in emerging markets.
Pascal Barollier, VP of global scientific communications told in-PharmaTechnologist: “Shantha offers a platform to localise some of the Sanofi Pasteur products which present a public health interest in emerging markets.
“Sanofi is investing within Shanta, and developing its production capacities which are ongoing in order to respond to a strong demand of quality vaccines at affordable price in emerging countries. “
Sanofi Pasteur’s foray into India has been fraught with financial setbacks.
The cancellation of the Shantha-produced Shan5 vaccination for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, haemophilus influenza B and hepatitis B set Sanofi back hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.
But with the new plant set to begin partial operations in March, Sanofi believes it will finally see a payoff from the $300m it pumped in to expand its vaccine capabilities through Shantha.
It is expected the facility will become fully operational in October.
CEO Chris Viehbacher told Business Standard: “We have implemented all the corrective measures.
“We are quite positive about the relationship with Shantha and will be participating in global tenders once the pre-qualification process is completed for low-cost and high-quality vaccines.”
Viehbacher also said the facility is just part of the company’s plans for expansion in India, which it sees as a cost effective medicine manufacturing opportunity.
He said: “I have brought five of the nine executive committee members to India to study the opportunities here.
“I am excited to have acquired Shantha, as it has a number of vaccines in the pipeline that Sanofi does not.”
Sanofi expects to rake in 40 per cent of its profits from emerging markets by 2015, as opposed to the current 29 per cent.