Multinational pharmaceutical drug company MSD, the fully owned subsidiary of Merck & Co, on Wednesday launched a diarrhoea-prevention vaccine RotaTeq for infants and children in India.

RotaTeq is a pentavalent rotavirus vaccine that helps in preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis, a leading cause of severe and life threatening diarrhoea in young children.

Rotavirus is associated with 39.2 per cent of all diarrhoea-related hospital admissions in India among children aged less than five years. According to estimates, nearly six lakh children die of rotavirus each year globally.

“We are launching the vaccine at Rs.900 a dose for private market in the country,'' MSD Managing Director in India K. G. Ananthakrishnan told reporters here.

While the first dosage of the oral three dose RotaTeq vaccine could be administered between six and twelve weeks of age, the subsequent doses need to be given at a minimal interval of four weeks between each dosage. It can be given up to the age of six years. The company will produce the vaccine in the U.S. and then import and market it in India.

“India suffers from a high disease burden of rotavirus associated diarrhoea which also leads to high child mortality in the country. As a part of our commitment to address the unmet medical needs in the country, MSD has launched RotaTeq in India,'' Mr. Ananthakrishnan said.

RotaTeq is a pentavalent rotavirus vaccine specifically designed to help protect against common rotavirus serotypes that cause more than 90 per cent of rotavirus disease worldwide (G1, G2, G3, G4 serotypes) 5. The safety profile and efficacy of RotaTeq was established in Phase III studies on more than 71,000 infants, including the landmark Rotavirus Efficacy and Safety Trial (REST), one of the largest pre-licensure vaccine clinical trials conducted

Meanwhile, MSD Pharmaceuticals has formed a 50:50 joint venture — Hilleman Laboratories — with U.K.-based Wellcome Trust to develop a heat resistant rotavirus diarrhoea vaccine in India. In India, MSD operates through three separate legal entities — MSD Pharmaceuticals, Organon India and Fulford India.

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