Updated on 15 July 2013
Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman, Serum Institute of India (SIIL)
Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SIIL), one of the largest providers of affordable quality vaccines in the world, has maintained its growth trajectory with a whopping growth of 39 percent over the previous year. Thus, Serum Institute retained its numero uno position in the Indian biotech industry while recording revenues of $2.06 billion (Rs 2,374 crore).
In 2012, SIIL bagged major vaccine orders not only from the UN agencies, but also expanded their reach in the private markets and acquired a Dutch vaccines firm. Industry insiders attribute the success of SIIL in the vaccines space to the vision of its chairman Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, who built facilities with large capacities, that in turn helped lower the prices of many vaccines. Here, Dr Poonawalla talks about how SIIL plans to bring down the price of injectible polio vaccines and more. Excerpts from the interview.
Which vaccines would you attribute SIIL's growth to, this year?
Dr Poonawalla: We attribute this year's growth, mainly, to the global take-off of Pentavalent vaccine and meeting more than two third of the world's requirements. In addition to this, there was a catch-up/eradication campaign by the UN agencies for Measles-Rubella [MR] vaccine. This added to our substantial jump in turnover.
What role would SIIL's recently acquired Bilthoven Biologicals play in reducing the cost of Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV)?
We are going to reduce the cost of IPV through our wholly-owned subsidiary, Bilthoven Biologicals, and help them launch world polio eradication drive, first, by making the vaccine affordable on humanitarian grounds, and later by scaling up the production which has been the signature style of Serum Institute to reduce the cost and divide overheads.
What is the reason behind low Full Immunization national average (at 44 percent) in India, when two out of every three children are getting a vaccine from SIIL?
I think the national average is low because of lack of accountability and serious negligence on the part of the administrators in implementing the Universal Programme of Immunization properly. There is nothing short of lack of accountability and transparency which can be implemented to achieve this goal, especially when this can be achieved in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Africa, why should India not able to implement this.