Indian Ranbaxy buys Biovel to strengthen in vaccines and follow-on biologics

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Ranbaxy Laboratories in India (now part of Daiichi Sankyo) has strengthened its vaccine and biologicals manufacturing capabilities by acquiring India-based Biovel Lifesciences.


Vaccines and biologicals, particularly follow-on biologics (FOBs), are tipped to be growth sectors for the pharmaceutical sector in coming years, but the complexity of manufacturing them creates higher barriers to entry. Consequently, to strengthen their production and development capabilities some companies have used alliances or acquisitions, with Ranbaxy the latest business to pursue this strategy.

Atul Sobti, CEO of Ranbaxy, explained that “the importance of the vaccine market has never been greater”, adding that the acquisition of Biovel provides it with a platform to enter the sector.

Pratap Reddy, Chairman of Biovel, elaborated on this, saying that Ranbaxy will use its “global market reach, quality and manufacturing expertise” to maximise the potential of the acquired assets and “create a business of scale”.

Vaccines and biotherapeutics are “an important part of [Ranbaxy’s] growth strategy”, added Mr Sobti. By acquiring Biovel, Ranbaxy gains a manufacturing facility in Bangalore, India, as well as the biotech’s products, pipeline, intellectual property and expertise.

Biovel is focused on the R & D, manufacturing and marketing of biogenerics (also called biosimilars), ‘biosuperiors’ (also called ‘biobetters’) and other biopharmaceuticals. Its website ( says that the company has entered into a collaborative agreement with Dow Pharma (a business unit of Dow Chemicals, USA) for the production of human growth hormone (hGH) using the Pfenix expression technology, and that it markets the anticoagulant, Thrombovel (enoxaparin sodium injection), in prefilled syringes. The manufacturing facility includes a pilot and commercial-scale plant. Biovel’s current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) compliant pilot plant is equipped with a 19L fermenter, a lyophilizer and downstream processing equipment for production of clinical trial materials.

Housed at the commercial-scale plant in 40,000 square feet of clean room are 100L and 500L production lines, with corresponding processing and purification systems, capable of simultaneously producing two different biologicals.

Among the products included in the deal are Typhoid Vi antigen and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) conjugate vaccines. Both these products are approved for sale in the Indian vaccine market, which Evaluate Report claim was worth Rs 3,600 Crores (US$784m) in 2008.


Ranbaxy enters vaccines arena with the acquisition of product rights and manufacturing facility from Biovel. Ranbaxy Press Release. 2010 January 19.

Nick Taylor. Ranbaxy buys Biovel to strengthen in biologics and vaccines. In-Pharma Technologist. 2010 January 20.

Anju Ghangurde. Indian firms seek a higher profile in the biosimilars sector. Scrip News. 2010 January 13.

Anju Ghangurde. Ranbaxy moves into vaccines with Biovel buy. Scrip News. 2010 January 20.

Source: Ranbaxy Press Release; In-Pharma Technologist; Scrip News

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