Pharma firm Biological E Limited (BEL) today launched the country's first indigenous vaccine to tackle Japanese encephalitis (JE), a deadly viral disease.
The vaccine, JEEV, is priced at Rs. 985. This is a one-time vaccine to be taken in two doses and will soon be available in the domestic market, Mahima Datla, senior vice-president of the city-based company, said at the launch here.
"The vaccine, which will also be exported, has good safety profile and proven efficacy in Indian subjects. It is available to doctors for the prevention of JE in children and adults," she said.
The technology for the vaccine has been obtained from the Austrian firm Intercell. Earlier, the vaccine was targeted to provide protection to travellers from Europe, Australia and the United States (US) among others, to regions where JE was prevalent, Datla said.
Now the technology has been localised and developed as an inactivated vaccine targeting both children and adults in India, she said.
BEL has a capacity to produce over ten million doses of JEEV and depending upon the demand, it will step up the output. The company has invested close to Rs. 400 crore in the development of various vaccines, Datla said.
Currently, a live anti-JE vaccine is imported from China. However, the live vaccine has safety issues compared to the inactivated one, the BEL executive said, adding that JEEV has been licenced by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
JE is an inflammation of the brain tissue and is caused due to the infection by a mosquito bite which carries the virus. At present, there is no anti-viral therapy and the vaccination is considered the most effective way to control the disease.
JE is highly prevalent in south-east Asia and the Far East and nearly 67,900 cases are recorded annually with 1169 deaths reported from India alone. During the last few years, over 10 million children have been affected worldwide by JE and 4 million have died or become permanently disabled, Datla said.