Biocon Biologics, Serum Institute Life Sciences to expand tie-up for R&D, new vaccines


Biocon Biologics and Serum Institute Life Sciences plan to expand their alliance to other areas such as cross-leveraging the capacity, investing in R&D and expanding the product pipeline. The companies have announced an agreement where Biocon Biologics will get access to 100 million doses of vaccines per annum for 15 years, primarily from Serum’s vaccine facility in Pune.

“Besides covid vaccines, this alliance will develop antibodies targeting several infectious diseases like dengue and HIV,” said Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon & Biocon Biologics. Under the alliance, we are going to expand capacity and invest in R&D as the opportunities are plenty in infectious as well as non-communicable diseases, she added. However, Shaw refused to disclose the potential investment details.

On Thursday, Biocon had said it will offer around 15 per cent stake to Serum Institute Life Sciences at a post-money valuation of about Rs36000 crore ($4.9 billion) where 15% will be valued at about Rs5100 crore. Post transaction, Biocon Ltd will hold 74.89% stake in Biocon Biologics. Serum Institute Life Sciences (SILS) is a subsidiary of Serum Institute of India (SII).


“Initially, additional capacity we can leverage from Biocon will be focused on covid. However, we have a good pipeline with so many new vaccines for malaria, pneumococcal disease, and HPV,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India.

“We are setting up our facility for messenger RNA technology, which may be commissioned in the next 2 years and the facility will be used for both Serum and Biocon Biologics for further product development,” he added.

Poonawala believes that the government may lift the ban on Covid vaccine exports in the next 2 months. “Restrictions are temporary. We expect slow ease in the next couple of months. There are enough vaccine stocks in India and we are well prepared for the 3rd or 4th wave of Covid,” he added.

Pune-based SII is the biggest supplier of covid 19 vaccines globally. Serum had tied up with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Health Organisation (WHO) for the vaccine supply.

India, as the largest exporter of coronavirus vaccines globally, dispatched about 66 million doses till April. However, the export was banned after country came under the grip of the second wave.

Regarding the Covid 19 vaccine for children, Poonawala is optimistic that results of the trial will be out by early next year and will find if the vaccines are safe in children under 12 years.

“Paediatric space where we are with Covovax candidate have started the trials. There will be a minimum of 3-4 months to know how safe the products are. If successful, we can cover children down to the age of 3-4,” Poonawala added.

Serum Institute had started the paediatric clinical trials of US firm Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate in July. Two domestic vaccine makers — Bharat Biotech (Covaxin) and Zydus Cadila (ZyCoV-D) — have already started trials on children.

In January 2020, homegrown private equity fund True North had acquired 2.44% stake in Biocon Biologics for Rs536 crore, valuing the company at Rs 21,450 crore ($3 billion). After one year, the valuation of Biocon Biologics went up to Rs30,000 crore ($4.1 billion) when Abu Dhabi based ADQ acquired 1.8% stake for Rs555 crore.

In August, Serum Institute had bought the 50% stake in the Indian joint venture SCHOTT Kaisha from former co-owners Kairus Dadachanji and Shapoor Mistry. SCHOTT Kaisha is the leading Indian manufacturer of pharma packaging products such as vials, syringes, ampoules and cartridges used to package life-saving medications.

Serum Institute supplies the world’s cheapest and WHO accredited vaccines to as many as 170 countries.

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