Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the Rs 250-crore
Ahmedabad-based company, has launched a new intradermal
vaccine for the treatment of Leprosy under the brand name
Leprovac. The vaccine is priced at Rs 50 for a four-dose
Developed by the National Institute of
Immunology and aided by the department of biotechnology, Leprovac has to be administered
in eight doses with a starting dose of 0.2 ml followed by seven maintenance doses of 0.1
ml each. The doses are to be administered at three-month intervals.
But, unlike other vaccines used for
disease prevention, Leprovac is to be administered in conjunction with multi-drug therapy,
or MDT, for better efficacy. According to a company release, the advantages of
administering Leprovac with MDT are that the immunomodulating effect of Leprovac
stimulated the immune system to kill the leprosy mycobacterium and subsequently also
confers the ability to clear the dead bacteria more efficiently.
The mycobacterium used in the vaccine is
reported to have no side effects due to its immunomodulating properties. This was
established after phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials, the release says. The vaccine acts by
reactivating the immune system that has become inactive against the leprosy-causing
bacteria Mycobacterium leprae.
The World Health Organisation estimates
1.6 million cases of leprosy in more that 80 countries. Between 1995-98, an estimated 5
lakh new cases were detected. India, Indonesia and Myanmar account for 70 per cent of the
leprosy-affected population worldwide, while the rest is spread between Africa and Latin
America, with Brazil accounting for a significant number.
Cadila plans to ensure that Leprovac is available
at a cost-effective price to support the leprosy mission and other non-government
organisations for disease eradication. The drug will be initially marketed only in India.
The company has plans to go global in the near future.