Serum Institute Expects Tie-Up With Biocon To Yield ‘Synergistic Benefits’
Serum Institute of India expects its strategic alliance with Biocon Ltd. to yield “synergistic benefits” in the areas of vaccines and antibodies.
"The companies intend to leverage each other’s research and manufacturing facilities 'to the optimal'", Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Pune-based Serum Institute of India, said at a press conference on Friday.
One such benefit will be backward integration of common raw materials, according to Poonawalla. “Four to five major raw materials areas shall be identified in next six months to one year and the companies shall invest or enter into long-term contracts with relevant suppliers.”
According to the agreement, Bengaluru-based Biocon will offer about 15% of its subsidiary, Biocon Biologics Ltd., to Serum Institute Life Sciences Pvt., a unit of SII, at a post-money valuation of $4.9 billion. In exchange, Biocon Biologics will get committed access to 10 crore doses of vaccines per annum for 15 years, with commercialisation rights of its vaccine portfolio, including those for Covid-19, in global markets.
The deal provides Biocon a foray into Covid-19 vaccines, and it has already entered into an agreement with Boston-based Adagio Therapeutics Inc. to make the Covid-19 therapy ADG20. “This alliance affords bigger opportunity in vaccines and antibodies leading to more value accretive opportunities for both companies,” Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of Biocon, said at the conference.
The partnership, Poonawalla said, will boost the development of different monoclonals—used to treat cancers and arthritis—that were put on the backburner as all of SII’s facilities were diverted to make Covid-19 vaccines. The alliance will also develop antibodies targeting infectious diseases like dengue, HIV, among others, Biocon said in an exchange filing.
Poonawalla said while the 10-crore annual vaccines to be provided may initially be for Covid-19, those for ailments like malaria and human papillomavirus are in the pipeline. SII also is building a messenger-RNA facility, he said, which will be completed in two years. While Biocon will develop products, SII will manufacture them in its facility. The deal is expected to have an impact on revenues from the second half of FY23, Shaw said.
The chief executive of the Pune-based company expects restrictions on exports of India-made vaccines to lift in 1-2 months depending on how the government manages vaccine stocks in the event of a third wave of the pandemic.
Shaw said India would attain self-sufficiency in vaccines by the second half of FY23, when the alliance generates revenue and profit, export restrictions would be removed, and not interfere with their export plans.
Poonawalla said Covovax, SII’s Covid-19 vaccine for kids aged less than 12 years, will require a minimum of three to four months to ascertain its safety on kids as young as 3-4 years. He expects it to be recommended for use by January-February 2022, subject to approvals.
The company will also start commercial manufacturing of Sputnik-light vaccine post approval. “We don’t expect Sputnik vaccines coming out of our facility in India until December-January,” he said.