Profiles – Express Pharma Pulse

Shantha: On a growth mission
P Ram Kumar – Hyderabad

In the emerging area of biotechnology, one company, which has earned the distinction of launching indigenously developed Hepatitis B vaccine for the first time in India is the Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotechnics Private Ltd. The company has achieved a pioneer status in developing and commercializing a recombinant DNA-based human healthcare product. This vaccine is currently being marketed under the brand name Shanvac-B.

Promoted by K I Varaprasad Reddy in 1993, Shantha Biotechnics is on a mission to develop, produce & market cost-effective human healthcare products that conform to international standards of high order. The company started with a modest capital of Rs.1.8 crore and is now a Rs.14.5 crore (US D 3.10 million) company with a net worth of Rs.84.60 crore (US D 19.12 million). The present market cap is around Rs.900 crore (US D 192.71 million).

Marketing Shantha has been successful in marketing Shanvac-B vaccine throughout the country. The pharmaceutical world leader, Pfizer, has joined hands with Shantha for marketing Shanvac-B in the domestic as well as the overseas market. Shantha has achieved a record sale of 21 million doses to date. Currently, Shanvac-B enjoys the largest market share in the Hepatitis-B vaccine market in India.

The success of Shanvac-B rests on its affordability and conformity to international safety and efficacy standards. The support extended by the medical fraternity for the mass vaccinations camps organised by the company has also contributed to its growth.

Joint ventures
Shantha has entered into a joint venture with ABL Biotechnologies Limited and formed a subsidiary, Shantha Marine Biotyechnolohgies Private Limited, with the aim at harnessing the potential of the marine resources. The company is presently working towards extracting Beta Carotene (an anti-oxidant and a rich source of Vitamin A) from indigenous strain of marine algac Dunaliella found in the ocean.

Betacarotene is used as a natural food coloring agent, an oxidant, cosmetic and skin care products, colourant and nutritional supplement for pet foods and dietary food and nutrition for livestock, shrimp, fish and prawns.

Upon commercialisation, Shantha Marine would be the first Indian company to manufacture Beta-Carotenoids, which are imported as of now.

The company is also planning a joint venture with Orchid Chemicals, a 100 per cent EOU company specialising in the manufacture of cephalosporin antibiotics, for international markets. The joint venture would be engaged in the manufacture of industrial enzymes.

Investments abroad In line with establishing a global presence, Shantha in August, 2000 incorporated Shantha West in Delaware, USA, as a 100 per cent wholly owned subsidiary for the purpose of carrying out research, development and commercialisation of monoclonal antibodies for therapeutic use in lung cancer. Shantha West has recently acquired the assets of East West Labs bringing into its fold five unique monoclonal antibodies – TB94 for lung cancer, RM2 & 3 for pancreatic cancer, RM4 for breast cancer and RM5 for multiple cancer therapy. These products would be unique as they are from the human system. Shantha West has entered into a strategic alliance with Crop Tech Inc., USA for providing the cloning technology, which would help in the yield of large volumes of protein at significantly low costs.

Future plans Shantha Biotechnics has a robust product line which includes human insulin, Interferron Alpha, Streptokinase, Tissue Plasminogen Activator, Granulocyte colony Stimulatin gFactor, Erythropoetin, Human Growth Hormone, Hepatitis-C vaccines, etc. Research and development work on all these products is underway. The company is planning the launch of its next product Shanferon (Interferon Alpha) in August 2001 to be followed by a combination vaccine for Hepatitis-B and DPT in January 2002. It is also planning to consider the usage of ‘‘Sustained Release Technology’’ for its product to improve their efficacy.

Awards The company’s pioneering efforts have fetched a number of awards. Some of them include:

  • First ever ‘‘National Technology Award’’ – for ‘‘Successful Development and Commercialisation of Indigenous Technology’’
  • Cash award of Rs 10 lakhs presented by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee(1999).
  • DSIR Award – for ‘‘Best R&D efforts in Industry’’ from the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India (1998)
  • ‘‘Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year’’ awarded to Shantha’s Managing Director K I Varaprasad Reddy (2000).
  • Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Award – for ‘‘Best Scientist of the Year’’(1997).
  • All India Biotech Award for ‘‘Best Invention of the Year’’(1997)
  • Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Award
  • ‘‘Best Marketing Efforts.’’

Shantha, in its first year of commercialisation, achieved a turnover of Rs 7.06 crore (USD 1.51 million). In 1999-2000 it made a turnover of Rs 31.84 crore (US D 6.82 million) and profit after tax of Rs 12.68 crore (US D 2.72 million). During the current year, it has recorded an increase in sales of 20 per cent over the last year.