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Hilleman Laboratories advances its Rotavirus Program for improved vaccine access
Date: 04/09/2014

Hilleman Laboratories, an equal joint-venture partnership between Merck & Co and the Wellcome Trust, announced a significant advancement in improving access to the life-saving rotavirus vaccine to children.

Speaking at the 11th International Rotavirus Symposium held in New Delhi, Dr. Davinder Gill, CEO, Hilleman Laboratories said, “We have developed thermostable formulations of pre-approved oral rotavirus vaccine that offer many months of stability in dry powder form at temperatures that are ambient in the developing world. In addition, using frangible sealed pouches, we have designed an inexpensive single container closure device that requires a very small footprint during distribution and delivery of our vaccine.”

The vaccine candidate will have optimized bulk antigen production processes combined with simple yet robust formulation and a scalable fill/finish to ensure a competitively priced vaccine which will improve access in the low-resource settings like India.

Dr. Gill said, “As our viral antigen and oral dosing are already pre-approved in liquid formulation, we aim to conduct rapid clinical trials to ensure accelerated approval of our vaccine. Our easy-to-administer delivery device offers a unique advantage both for improved affordability as well as increased access of the rotavirus vaccine.”

A recent study on Rotavirus in India by the journal Vaccine estimates 11.4 million rotavirus-induced episodes in India annually. It further highlights that the burden of rotavirus disease in India is estimated to be 78,000 deaths annually of which 59,000 occur in the first two years of life.

The rotavirus vaccines currently available rely on cold chain storage and result in higher distribution costs and inadequate supply to those in need. Hilleman Laboratories initiative in developing thermostable rotavirus vaccine will allow for greater temperature consistency and less reliance on exact storage timing and refrigeration. The company’s initial focus is to heat stabilize the existing vaccine and bring it to vaccine vial monitor (VVM) 30 levels and higher. This will determine the feasibility of applying innovative delivery technologies to an existing oral rotavirus vaccine to make it thermostable for further opportunities.

About Hilleman Laboratories
Hilleman Laboratories is a first-of-its-kind joint-venture partnership formed between Merck & Co., a global research-driven pharmaceutical organization and Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to human and animal health by supporting the brightest minds.

Hilleman Laboratories has been named after renowned scientist and father of modern vaccine Dr. Maurice Hilleman. His dedication to making a difference through the practical application of vaccine research and delivering vaccines to people in need forms the core mission of Hilleman Laboratories.

Operating on a not-for-profit principle, Hilleman Laboratories aims to become a preferred partner for Low Cost Vaccine Manufacturers and the ‘global voice’ for vaccine development and usage for public health in the developing world. For further information please visit:

About Rotavirus-induced diarrhoea
Diarrhoeal diseases are a major cause of hospitalizations and child deaths globally. Together they account for approximately one in six deaths among children younger than five years. According to WHO, India sees more than 2.3 million annual deaths among children, of which about 3,34,000 are attributable to diarrhoeal diseases. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea in children in developed and developing countries.

Media Contact:
Aditi Roy
+91 9654957517

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