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Panel for reopening vaccine institutes

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Parliamentary Committee on Health and Family Welfare has recommended that the government should revoke the suspension of vaccine manufacturing licenses of the three public sector undertakings at the earliest.

Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry had suspended the manufacturing licenses of the Central research Institute, Kasauli; Pasteur Institute of India, Coonoor and BCG Vaccine Laboratory, Chennai in January 2008 following certain deficiencies in the good manufacturing practices as laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Until such time the new infrastructure conforming to the norms comes up, these institutes may be allowed to continue production in the old structure after carrying out the rectifications either fully or to the extent possible, the 34th report of the Parliamentary Committee has said.

In view of the fact that these units have their own quality control system as also the National Quality Control Authority involved in the quality control of vaccines, there is a little likelihood of production of sub-standard vaccine by these units. These institutes may be allowed sufficient time and provided with adequate funds for completing their rectification work under the aegis of the Ministry in order to avoid any time over run, the report said.

Shortage of vaccines

While taking the decision of suspension of licenses, the Ministry had not foresighted the likely shortage of vaccines and resultant rise in prices of vaccines. The vaccines produced from these three institutes were being supplied for the universal immunisation programme.

Adverse effect

The Vaccine Park coming up at the cost of already existing units cannot be considered justified from any point of view.

The committee observed that the project could take a couple of years before manufacturing and supply of vaccines could actually take place. Till such time, the committee feels that procuring requirements of vaccines from private sector would only increase the cost of vaccines thereby adversely hitting the exchequer.

Moreover, a single centralised vaccine producing park may not be able to cater to the needs of the billion plus and growing population of the country.

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