Aurobindo Pharma expects to commercialise Covid-19 vaccine facility by May

Representative photo of a vaccine

Aurobindo Pharma expects to commercialise its vaccine manufacturing facility in Hyderabad by April-May next year, according to a top company official.

The Hyderabad-based drug major is investing around Rs 275 crore on the facility which would be utilised to produce vaccines for the treatment of various viral diseases including COVID-19.

Besides developing its own vaccine for the infectious disease and also separately tying up with CSIR for development of a vaccine, Aurobindo Pharma is planning to collaborate with other companies who may be successful in developing the medication sooner than it.

"We have taken a three-pronged approach. One in terms of our own vaccine, one in terms of tie-up with CSIR Labs, which in fact, there are three different products on three different platforms by three institutes," Aurobindo Pharma Managing Director N Govindarajan said in an analyst call.

Besides, the company is exploring collaboration with the potential partners who will be getting ready with the product sooner than its product or even CSIR's product, he added.

So, this is the three-pronged strategy, Govindarajan noted.

Elaborating further he said: Our product is slightly delayed. But having said that, CSIR's products are progressing well, and our manufacturing facility, we are still targeting to complete it by March-April timeline and start the qualification by April. We can start commercialising it by the April-May timeline, which is the plan.

The Hyderabad-based facility would have a capacity to produce around 450 million vaccine doses, Govindarajan said.

The objective was that we would be able to utilise a facility along with our partner whoever is getting ready earlier than whatever efforts we are investing on. So that is the reason we went ahead and created the capacity, he noted.

He added that the company is going to undertake a multi-pronged approach when it comes to tying up with partners going ahead.

We shall be doing the manufacturing, taking the bulk from them and over a period we can even do the bulk and then do the finished dosage and we will also be taking certain markets for distribution as well, Govindarajan said.

Aurobindo Pharma is developing the vaccine for SARS COV-2 (COVID-19) through its wholly-owned US subsidiary Auro Vaccines, he added.

The SARS COV-2 vaccine candidate is based on the company's proprietary replication-competent, attenuated, recombinant vesicular stomatitis (VSV, VesiculoVax) vaccine delivery platform.

Replying to a separate query on capex, Govindarajan said :On the capital allocation front, we have been mentioning this in the past as well that we will not be looking at any large ticket acquisition for the next couple of years. Our current year capex should be around USD 180 million to USD 200 million.

Last month, the company inked a pact to divest Natrol, a wholly-owned unit of its US-based subsidiary, to private equity firm New Mountain Capital for USD 550 million (around Rs 4,048 crore).

Aurobindo Pharma had acquired Natrol in December 2014.

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