Pharmaniaga, BioNet-Asia to develop hexavalent vaccine for children

The vaccine is scheduled to be ready by the end of 2023


PHARMANIAGA Bhd’s subsidiary, Pharmaniaga LifeScience Sdn Bhd, has signed a research collaboration agreement (RCA) with BioNet-Asia Co Ltd of Thailand to develop a six-in-one combination (hexavalent) vaccine for children.

Using the BioNet formulation, the RCA is part of the strategy to reduce country’s dependency on imported vaccine and its cost, as well as produce a halal vaccine.

Pharmaniaga group MD Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope said the formalisation has started through a memorandum of understanding in February 2022 after discussion with the Health Ministry (MoH) on the necessary vaccine to be developed for children under the National Immunisation Programme (NIP).

He added that currently, the hexavalent vaccine used in Malaysia for NIP are fully imported.

“The RCA is to kick-start the development process of the hexavalent vaccine in Malaysia where Pharmaniaga and BioNet are involved in developing the combinational vaccine formulation and is scheduled to be ready by the end of 2023,” he said after an RCA signing ceremony today.

The RCA was signed by Zulkarnain and BioNet group president Vitoon Vonghangool, witnessed by Pharmaniaga chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Mohd Rafique and BioNet CEO Dr Hong Thai Pham.

Zulkarnain said BioNet is chosen as it is Pharmaniaga research partner and known as a prominent vaccine manufacturer in Thailand with expertise in vaccine innovation.

He added that the commercialisation for the vaccine is expected to kick off by 2026 after the successful clinical trial which demonstrated the protective immune response with hexavalent vaccine.

“We expect the cost for the development would be around US$10 million (RM44.29 million) and US$20 million depending on the critical trial and barring any circumstances can take roughly US$10 million to US$15 million,” Zulkarnain said.

The vaccine will be used in Malaysia with a projected annual market value of RM200 million and the annual market demand regionally is estimated an approximate value of RM500 million to RM600 million.

Pharmaniaga targets to supply hexavalent vaccines to MoH in Malaysia as well as to export to other parties worldwide.

Meanwhile, Pham said the vaccine is unique as it will be able to protect against six diseases compared to most vaccines that only provides one disease protection for children.

“The selection of each antigen from the component is important and we are to develop an innovative component through using the liquid formulation and containing a recombinant pertussis vaccine,” Pham said.

The hexavalent vaccine will protect children against six diseases namely diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, haemophilus influenzae Type B and hepatitis B.