Cipla to facilitate imports of Moderna jabs; in talks for a separate merger with an American company

MUMBAI: India’s largest pharmaceutical company, Cipla, will “facilitate” the importation of Covid vaccines donated by US biotechnology major Moderna into the country thanks to the license issued by the drug regulator.
In parallel, Cipla is also pursuing a separate partnership with the American company to undertake the large-scale filling and finishing, distribution and marketing of Moderna’s messenger or mRNA vaccines.
Moderna’s vaccine becomes the fourth to obtain emergency clearance in the country, after Serum Institute’s Covishield, Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and Russia’s Sputnik.
Elaborating on development, Cipla Global CEO Umang Vohra told TOI, “This is not a trade or supply agreement, and we are not distributing this shipment either.”
The company does not have a “definitive agreement on commercial supplies,” she said in a late BSE filing Tuesday, and is backing Moderna with regulatory approval and the import of vaccines to be donated to India.
The Cipla script closed at Rs 979, a gain of almost 2%, after hitting a 52 week high at Rs 989.
It is understood that the imported jabs are part of the donation that the US government promised earlier. In May, the Biden administration announced the donation of coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX program for distribution in low-income and developing countries, including India. The United States is expected to send a total of 20 million doses of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines by the end of the month to those countries, out of the 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines already planned.
The “gift” should be limited in quantity, as India shares it with other developing countries. In June, a big part of that will be Moderna’s blows as the other two companies, Pfizer and J&J do not have regulatory approval in India.
The exact amount of Moderna doses given was not available, but sources added that the doses will be available in the country soon.
The company may not have to conduct transition studies on local topics prior to import, per the Centre’s amended policy in April to speed up vaccines made overseas. It may need to submit the security assessment data of the first 100 beneficiaries before the mass deployment, sources said.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said: “I would like to thank the Indian government for this authorization, which marks an important step in the global fight against the pandemic. We are committed to making our Covid-19 vaccine available worldwide. ”
In another development, the vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies against emerging variants, including the Delta variant first identified in India, in a lab study, the drugmaker said. The study was conducted on the blood serum of eight participants obtained one week after receiving the second dose of the vaccine, mRNA-1273.

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