India launches indigenous swine flu vaccine

India today launched its first vaccine for swine flu (H1N1), developed by Zydus Cadila Healthcare, an Ahmedabad-based pharmaceutical company.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad launched the vaccine, almost an year after the deadly flu struck and the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic.

Zydus Cadila received approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to market the H1N1 vaccine, early in May.

With this, Zydus Cadila becomes the first Indian pharma company to launch the vaccine, which will be marketed under the brand name `VaxiFlu-S.'

VaxiFlu-S will be marketed by Vaxxicare - a division of the group focusing on preventives. The egg-based, inactivated vaccine has been developed using conventional technology by the group's researchers at its Vaccine Technology Centre (VTC) in Ahmedabad.

VTC further plans to develop a wide spectrum of vaccines against bacterial, viral and protozoal infections.

Zydus Cadila said, with the launch of the vaccine, the company would be better prepared to prevent further loss of lives to this infectious disease and with an affordable therapy.

Though summer provides respite from seasonal flu, there have been incidences of H1N1 with cases being reported from Pune, Coimbatore and Chennai.

Cadila's chairman and managing director Pankaj Patel was the first to take the vaccine followed by Azad.