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THE race among Indian pharma companies engaged in swine flu vaccine development may soon throw up a winner just when the pandemic enters a critical stage with the onset of winter.

Drug Controller General (India) Dr Surindra Singh said that the Rs 3,000-crore pharma major Zydus Group has become the first domestic company to file for clinical trial protocol for H1N1 vaccine with the DCGI. With this filing, the Ahmedabad-based major leads other Indian pharma majors including Bharat Biotech, Panacea Biotech and Serum Institute of India, the three entities mandated by the Indian government to develop the vaccine. Interestingly, another pharma major Cadila Pharmaceuticals, which too is developing a swine flu vaccine with US collaboration using an advanced technology, belongs to Gujarat, whose chief minister Narendra Modi is still recovering from Swine Flu.

According to DCGI Dr Singh: “Zydus is the first and the only Indian company to file for swine flu vaccine’s trial.” Among the multinationals, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Novartis, Baxter International and Sanofi-Aventis had applied for test licence to the DCGI for carrying out clinical trials in India for their version of swine flu vaccines. “Although, it’s a long process, among the MNCs, GSK is comparatively ahead,” says Mr Singh. When contacted, Zydus did not confirm the development, but top level sources close to the company said Zydus would be the first Indian company to hit the market with the vaccine.

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