Three premier public sector units (PSUs) — the Pasteur Institute of India in Coonoor, Central Research Institutes, Kasauli and BCG Vaccine Laboratory in Chennai — have stopped making some compulsory vaccines after the Drugs Controller General of India suspended their licences for not adhering to “good manufacturing practices”. The drop in the supply of vaccines has hit India’s universal immunisation programme, the CPM has concluded after poring over data from four states.
Together, these three institutes produce about 40 per cent of vaccines that fall under “primary” or essential vaccines category.
“Production of anti-rabies and DPT group of vaccines had been stopped since January 22 this year. To upgrade facilities to confirm to good manufacturing practices, we have asked for extra funds from the health ministry,” a senior official of the Pasteur Institute said, requesting anonymity.
The CPM, whose lawmaker Brinda Karat has flagged the issue for discussion in Rajya Sabha, alleged that since India had become a captive market for immunologicals, state-owned health PSUs were being neglected.
“We want an answer to the shortfall because in the last session, health minister Anbhumani Ramadoss’s reply wasn’t convincing at all. The halt in production took place behind the Parliament’s back since the annual plan of the health ministry for 2007-08 doesn’t state this at all,” Karat said.
Figures made available by CPM showed that the Universal Immunisation Programme is bring severely compromised in in West Bengal, Tripura, Orissa and Kerala.
“Stoppage of production in these units is one of the reasons for the current shortage, particularly in DPT and DT,” Karat told Hindustan Times.