Updated on 9 May 2012
Shanchol - Cholera vaccine by Shantha Biotechnics
Efforts to accelerate global use of new generation cholera vaccines gained significant momentum with the licensure of a new oral cholera vaccine, Shanchol, from Shantha Biotechnics in India in 2009.
The product won the BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Bioscience Industry Product of the Year Award for 2010.
Approximately 200,000 cases of cholera cases per year are notified to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2007 from 52 countries. This represents an increase of 46 percent in the mean number of cases reported during 2002-05 period. In India alone, the overall incidence of cholera is estimated as 1.9 cases per 1,000 but can be as high as nine per 1,000 among children. There are many outbreaks but cholera as a disease is largely unreported.
India used to administer an injectable vaccine in the 1970s when cholera was a notifiable disease. However, in 1973, its use was scrapped, as it was only 30 percent effective and provided immunity only for eight months. The only WHO-pre-qualified oral cholera vaccine to date is the double dose Swedish vaccine called Dukoral, which is priced at $60 and needs to be co-administered with a relatively high volume of buffer solution.
After 38 years, Indian population gets an affordable and efficacious cholera vaccine in the form of Shanchol. The bivalent oral vaccine is produced by the Indian vaccine giant, Shantha Biotechnics, which is now part of the Sanofi-Aventis group after its vaccines division Sanofi Pasteur, the world's largest vaccine-maker, bought Shantha from Merieux for $550 million, valuing the company at a stunning Rs 3,740 crore (about $809 million), more than 16 times its turnover.
Shanchol consists of killed whole cells from a mix of pathogenic strains of Vibrio cholerae (O1and O139) and is given in two doses, each dose in six weeks gap. The vaccine currently priced at $1.85 is licensed for use in adults and children above one year old. The product is very innovative as it incorporates all the important genes required to make it very selective and more effective without harming the intestines in any way. It is designed to prevent even severe infections caused by various mutants of the cholera virus.