Hyderabad: Pharma firm Biological E Ltd (BEL) on Thursday launched the country's first indigenous vaccine to tackle Japanese encephalitis (JE), a deadly viral disease.

The vaccine, JEEV, is priced at Rs 985. This is a one- time vaccine to be taken in two doses and will be soon available in the domestic market, Mahima Datla, Senior Vice- President of the city-based company, said at the launch here.

The vaccine, which will also be exported, has good safety profile and proven efficacy in Indian subjects and is available to doctors for prevention of Japanese encephalitis in children and adults, she said.

Technology for the vaccine has been obtained from Austrian firm Intercell. Earlier, the vaccine was targeted to provide protection to travellers from Europe, Australia, US, among others, to regions where JE was prevalent, Datla said.

Now the technology has been localised and developed as an inactivated vaccine targeting both children and adults in India, she said.

BEL has a capacity to produce over ten million doses of JEEV and depending upon the demand, it will step up the output. The company has invested close to Rs 400 crore in development of various vaccines, Datla said.

Currently, a `live' anti-JE vaccine is imported from China. However, live vaccine has safety issues compared to inactivated one, the BEL executive said, adding JEEV has been licenced by the Drug Controller General of India.

JE is an inflammation of the brain tissue and caused due to infection by a mosquito bite which carries the virus. At present, there is no anti-viral therapy and vaccination is considered the most effective way to control the disease.

JE is highly prevalent in Southeast Asia and Far East and nearly 67,900 cases are recorded annually with 1169 deaths reported from India alone. During the last few years, over 10 million children have been affected worldwide by JE and 4 million have died or become permanently disabled, Datla said.


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