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Merck & Co eyes vaccines production in Russia

US pharma giant Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK) is considering localizing production of vaccines against rotavirus infection and human papillomavirus (HPV) in Russia at the facilities of one of the local drugmakers, according to Marwan Akar, general director of Merck’s subsidiary MSD Pharmaceuticals in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, reports The Pharma Letter’s local correspondent.

He said negotiations with potential local partners and the Russian government are currently ongoing, while a final decision depends on the type of vaccines that will be included in the expanded Russian National Schedule of Prophylactic Vaccinations (NSPV), which is due to be published shortly by the Russian Ministry of Health.

One of the potential partners for MSD in Russia could be Natsimbio, a leading Russian producer of vaccines and part of the state and defense conglomerate Rostec.

It is planned production may be established at the facilities of the Russian company as soon as the end of the current year, while the value of investments at the initial stage will be $50-$60 million.

In the case of Natsimbio, in November 2017 the company announced it will invest an additional 2.2 billion roubles (~$39 million) to expand the range of vaccines at its Fort plant. That will involve the beginning of production of vaccines against rotavirus infection, chicken pox, measles and rubella.

Currently, MSD remains the sole seller of a vaccine against rotavirus infection in Russia, which is the pentavalent RotaTech live vaccine.

Vaccines for the prevention of measles, rubella and poliomyelitis are already purchased under the NSPV. The vaccine against chicken pox and rotavirus infection is planned to be included in the NSPV in 2019, the Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova said in November 2017. According to her, the cost of this project is 16.7 billion roubles.


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