ET Bureau Jan 03, 2020, 07.59 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech International has proposed to partner with the government to revive the country’s largest integrated vaccine complex in Tamil Nadu that is struggling to start operations due to cash crunch.

The Hyderabad-based biotechnology company has offered to invest in the Rs 600-crore Integrated Vaccine Complex (IVC) at Chengalpattu, set up by HLL Biotech (HBL), a subsidiary of condom maker HLL Lifecare, in a recent letter to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan. 

“The objective of this communication is to convey our deep interest and commitment to work with HLL Lifecare to manufacture and market several of our vaccines,” it said. “We would work on a phasewise technology transfer to achieve this goal.”

ET has seen a copy of the letter.

IVC was conceived in 2008 as a project of national importance to produce vaccines for the National Immunization Programme and make the country self-sufficient. With a planned annual capacity of 585 million, the project proposed to make pentavalent, or five-in-one, combination vaccine, BCG vaccine, and vaccines to prevent measles, hepatitis B, human rabies, Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b) and Japanese encephalitis (JE) in the first phase, which was to be commissioned by 2010.

However the project is still struggling to kick start, following shortage of funds.

“The situation is such that even the employees have not been paid their salaries for the last several months,” said a person aware of the matter. “The project needs a fresh infusion of funds.”

People familiar with the development said HBL has been struggling financially as it awaits the proposed disinvestment of HLL Lifecare, pending which decisions on its requirement of additional funds have been halted.

A government official said the health ministry is looking at various options including Bharat Biotech’s proposal to revive IVC. “Once the ministry takes the decision, it will be taken to the cabinet for approval,” the person said.

Bharat Biotech has proposed four vaccine candidates to start with for the collaboration — rotavirus vaccine, JE, rabies vaccine and hepatitis B vaccine. “Our company is ready to engage in a dialogue with HLL Lifecare on all aspects of the collaboration, both commercial and technical,” the company said in its letter to the health minister.