Brazil to produce measles/rubella vaccine for poor countries


RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Brazils top biomedicalresearch and development center announced plans on Monday toproduce a combined measles and rubella vaccine for developingcountries, mainly in Africa.

The first Brazilian vaccine developed specifically forexport will be made by Bio-Manguinhos, a unit of the OswaldoCruz Foundation (Fiocruz), in partnership with the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation.

Brazilian health minister Alexandre Padilha announced thevaccine plan at a medical science conference that the GatesFoundation organized in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil is following other leading emerging nations such asChina and India in investing in biomedical technology to supplyvaccines and medicines to developing countries at lower coststhan those produced by pharmaceutical industries in developednations.

Measles kills 158,000 people a year in the world, mostlychildren under the age of five. Rubella, a contagious viraldisease with symptoms like mild measles, can cause seriousconsequences to pregnant women and their babies.

Bio-Manguinhos, which has a track record of making combinedmeasles, mumps and rubella vaccines, will produce 30 milliondoses per year of the new measles/rubella vaccine to supplydeveloping countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

This will increase the availability of a vaccine that todayis produced by only one manufacturer, the Serum Institute ofIndia Ltd.

The Gates Foundation said it would grant $1.1 million tosupport clinical trials and might contribute additional funds insubsequent phases of the project.

Bio-Manguinhos has been producing the combined measles,mumps and rubella vaccine since 2003 under a technology transferagreement with GlaxoSmithKline Plc. This triple vaccineis used in Brazils immunization program, but was not adopted inmany developing countries due to its cost and the limitedepidemiological presence of mumps in a number of them.

The new measles/rubella vaccine is aimed at that group ofnations and is expected to reach the market by 2017.

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