Vaccines and biologics, particularly follow-on biologics (FOB), are tipped to be growth sectors for pharma in coming years but the complexity of manufacturing them creates higher barriers to entry.
Consequently, to strengthen their production and development capabilities some companies have used alliances or acquisitions, with India-based Ranbaxy the latest business to pursue this strategy.
Atul Sobti, CEO of Ranbaxy, explained that “the importance of the vaccine market has never been greater”, adding that the acquisition of Biovel provides it with a platform to enter the sector.
Pratap Reddy, chairman of Biovel, elaborated on this, saying that Ranbaxy will use its “global market reach, quality and manufacturing expertise” to maximise the potential of the acquired assets and “create a business of scale”.
Vaccines and biotherapeutics are “an important part of [Ranbaxy’s] growth strategy”, added Sobti. By acquiring Biovel Ranbaxy gains a manufacturing facility in Bangalore, India, as well as the biotech’s products, pipeline, intellectual property and expertise.
The manufacturing facility includes a pilot and commercial-scale plant. Biovel’s current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) compliant pilot plant is equipped with a 19L fermenter, a lyophilizer and downstream processing equipment for production of clinical trial materials.
Housed at the commercial-scale plant in 40,000 sq ft of clean room are 100L and 500L production lines, with corresponding processing and purification systems, capable of simultaneously producing two different biologics.
Among the products included in the deal are Typhoid Vi antigen and Hib conjugate vaccines. Both these products are approved for sale in the Indian vaccine market, which Evaluate Report claim was worth Rs 3,600 Crores ($784m) in 2008.
Ranbaxy also gains a pipeline which includes vaccines, biotherapeutics and drug delivery systems.