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One more H1N1 vaccine undergoing trials

Drug stores not stocking vials due to poor demand

ONE more H1N1 Influenza vaccine developed in the country is expected to be out in the market soon as Panacea Biotech, a pharmaceutical firm, completes its third phase of vaccine clinical trial by this week.

About 3,000 subjects were recruited for the trial, who will be administered through injection.  

“The trial is going well. We will do the data analysis by this week. After that, the Government (Union Health Ministry) will decide when to launch it,” said Dr V K Vinayak, president, Biopharmaceutical Research Centre, Panacea Biotech Ltd. 

The first indigenous vaccine Vaxiflu-S was released by Zydus Cadila Pharmaceutical in June, while Serum Institute of India came out with Nasovac, an intra-nasal H1N1 vaccine, last week.

In spite of the two vaccines, besides the one brought out by Sanofi Pasteur in March and distributed by the Union Health Ministry to all the states, and the third on the anvil, there are few takers. 

D A Gundurao, president, Karnataka Chemists and Distributors Association, said that while Indian-made vaccines were available for commercial use, few leading chemists, that too having schedule ‘X’ licence, had stocked up the vaccine vials. 

“We cannot take these vaccines at the face value. Credible scientific papers on them are yet to be published. Even doctors are not recommending them,” he said. He pointed out that the demand for the vaccines was not enough for drug stores in the City to stock them. 

Interestingly, a spokesperson from Sanofi Pasteur said Karnataka’s response to immunisation was better than Maharashtra, which saw the highest number of H1N1 deaths. 

Extra doses
Meanwhile, the Health department denied the Union Health Ministry’s claim that it had not used a large chunk of the H1N1 vaccines allotted to the state. Deccan Herald had reported on July 17 that the Ministry had sent a letter to the State health secretary urging the full utilisation of vaccine as nearly 60 per cent remained unused. 

However, Health Commissioner D N Nayak stated that the reason for the misleading figure was that the health officials at calculated the requirement wrong. 

“We have used about 41,000 vials till now, which is the highest compared to other States in the country. However, since we overestimated the number of doses required, the overall percentage of used vials has come down. 

Karnataka received 1,24,220 vials from the Centre, which was used on doctors, pharmacists, support staff, nurses and ANMs. To utilise some more vials, ASHA and anganwadi workers would be vaccinated, this month. However, the extra vaccinations cannot be given to the public as only a limited number would get it. 

“I had suggested to the Centre to take back the remaining vaccines or if we could send vials to States facing shortage of vaccines. However, the Centre told us to retain them and increase the coverage,” he said. 

(Published in Deccan Herald on 20th July, 2010)

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