Govt to procure costly vaccine from private sector, to close PSUs

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New Delhi, May 13 (UNI) The Government is closing vaccine production by three Public Sector Units and plans to procure pentavalent vaccine for the Universal Immunisation Programme from private companies at a cost more than twelve times the cost at which it is being given by PSUs.

The Central Research Institute Kasauli, PII Coonoor and BCG, Guindy were producing about 3855 lakh doses of vaccine providing about 80 per cent of the requirement under UIP for various vaccine.

However, the Health Ministry has decided to stop production of vaccines from them and procure vaccines at a cost of approximately Rs 500 crore from private companies. At present the bulk of vaccines for UIP are being supplied by PSUs at just Rs 40 crore.

The ground for closing vaccine production from these over hundred year old PSUs is being given as that they were not compliant of the revised Schedule M pertaining to Good Manufacturing Practices and were not modernised.

However, interestingly the road map for the production/ procurement of vaccine in the private sector has not yet been ready.

Health Secretary Naresh Dayal tried to defend the Ministry decision by stating that it was done as the WHO's assessment report had repeatedly said that the PSUs were not compliant with the statutory requirements laid in Schedule M of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and that the National Regulatory Authority had not initiated any action against these PSUs.

''In the light of the observations made by WHO and the impending danger of disqualification by WHO for export of vaccines to the tune of Rs 1500 crore, the decision was taken by the government,'' Mr Dayal said. He said that there were also apprehesions that disqualification of NRA could have serious implication for export of drugs from the country which is approximately Rs 24000 crore annually.

He said that utilising the opportunity the ministry has also decided to re-engineer its UIP and introduce pentavalent vaccines which also have vaccines against Hepatitis instead of the present trivalent DPT.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of a Sub Committee constituted by the Health Ministry under the chairmanship of Dr M K Bhan, Secretary in the Department of Biotechnology, and having members from John Hopkins Institute, GAVI, WHO and UNICEF.


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