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Datla, the doyen of India's vaccine industry

Datla, the doyen of India
Highlights

Biological Evans Chairman Dr Vijay Kumar Datla who passed away on Wednesday made immense contribution to children's vaccines P Madhusudhan...

Biological Evans Chairman Dr Vijay Kumar Datla who passed away on Wednesday made immense contribution to children's vaccines dal2 P Madhusudhan Reddy Hyderabad: Dr Vijay Kumar Datla, Chairman and Managing Director, Biological E Limited (BE), always took pride in producing affordable vaccines that prevented destabilizing diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT). His missionary zeal had not only paid rich dividends to company, but also for the country as vaccines from BE gave lifeline to millions of children. His demise on Wednesday at the age of 67 was an incalculable loss to India's biotech industry. Born at Bhimavaram in West Godavari district in February, 1945 and a medical doctor by profession, Dr Vijay Kumar nurtured BE into major vaccine producing firm that catered to the vaccine needs of the country as well as several other nations across the world. Set up in 1953 as Biological Products Private Limited by his father Dr Datla Venkata Krishnam Raju (popular as DVK Raju), and later donned the current nomenclature, BE was the first firm in India to explore frontiers of biotechnology and its use in pharmaceutical space when the term was alien to the country. Dr Vijay Kumar, whose association with the company stretched beyond four decades, had played pivotal role in its success. A During the past 43 years, he was director, executive director, managing director before his elevation as the CMD. Like him, the company also grew step-by-step over the years and transformed itself into an `250-crore enterprise now, producing a range of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products. Overall, it supplied 120 crore doses of vaccines in India and 80 crore overseas during its 60-years-long journey. Nearly 60 per cent of the DPT and Tetanus Taxoid (TT) vaccines produced by the company are supplied to central government's National Universal Immunization Programme. In 2012, BE had launched JEEV, its inactivated vaccine for deadly Japanese Encephalitis (JE) virus. Developed by BE with technology licensed from Austrian vaccine producer Intercell AG, it is the first indigenously-made vaccine for JE. Also, BE made huge strides on pharmaceutical front with credible presence in branded formulations, generics and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). It has a product line that cover a whole range of pharmaceutical formulations in various segments including asthma, cough management and digestive enzymes, nutraceuticals, anti-infectives, anticoagulants, etc. Currently, vaccines and pharma products contribute 50 per cent each to the BE's top line. But the company expects the ratio to change over the next few years with vaccines contributing more. "The growth will be much more significant now as we expect 100 per cent upsurge in vaccine business and over 35 to 40 per cent upswing in pharmaceutical segment. Our turnover should reach `1,000 crore mark in next couple of years," Mahima Datla, the company's Senior President for Operations and younger daughter of Dr Vijay Kumar, said earlier. The company which is recognized by World Health Organisation (WHO) and a host of global health regulators has several manufacturing facilities in the city and on the outskirts. It employs over 2,000 people.A Interestingly, BE is still a privately held company despite its half- decade history in the pharma sector.
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