Industry

Bengal Chemicals keen on resuming anti-snake venom serum production

BL06/12/2003KOLKATA: A snake and other reptiles expert extracts venom out of a Russell's snake at the Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (BCPL), during the inauguration of its new laboratory by Mr.Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, CM of West Bengal (not in the photograph), in Kolkata, the capital of the eastern India state of West Bengal, on December 06,2003. BCPL is the first Indian company to manufacture chemicals, drugs & pharmaceuticals and home products was founded Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray in 1901. The company became sick and was reffered to BIFR in 1992. Since then the Company has been making a turnaround and in 2003-03 the company earned a Net Profit of Rs.2.50 crores. The company is expected to be out of BIFR by the end of this financial year. BCPL is the only Pharma PSU in the country that has entered into export market and has been supplying Antibiotics of several kinds to Myanmar. Bengal Chemicals is also exporting Pheneol in Tanzania, Alum and Snake Venom Antiserum in Bangladesh. Products are being registered in Sri Lanka where exports will start in the next two months. (Photo by Parth Sanyal)

BL06/12/2003KOLKATA: A snake and other reptiles expert extracts venom out of a Russell's snake at the Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (BCPL), during the inauguration of its new laboratory by Mr.Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, CM of West Bengal (not in the photograph), in Kolkata, the capital of the eastern India state of West Bengal, on December 06,2003. BCPL is the first Indian company to manufacture chemicals, drugs & pharmaceuticals and home products was founded Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray in 1901. The company became sick and was reffered to BIFR in 1992. Since then the Company has been making a turnaround and in 2003-03 the company earned a Net Profit of Rs.2.50 crores. The company is expected to be out of BIFR by the end of this financial year. BCPL is the only Pharma PSU in the country that has entered into export market and has been supplying Antibiotics of several kinds to Myanmar. Bengal Chemicals is also exporting Pheneol in Tanzania, Alum and Snake Venom Antiserum in Bangladesh. Products are being registered in Sri Lanka where exports will start in the next two months. (Photo by Parth Sanyal)  

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Proposal will require about ₹30 crore in capital expenditure, says firm’s MD

Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (BCPL) which had forayed into anti-snake venom serum (ASVS) manufacture in India nearly half a century ago, is keen to resume production of this life-saving medication, shortage of which kills hundreds of people.

No records are available to pin point the exact year that the 118-year-old heritage company commenced ASVS production, but it is believed to be somewhere around 1920s, a company official said.

Its capacity was about one lakh vials. BCPL was the first home-grown pharmaceutical and home products company. It has units in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Snake bite morbidity is high in the Indian subcontinent with over one million bites annually, figures culled from several reports show. ASV is an antidote to the snake venom action and is provided free in government hospitals. Yet, there are only a handful of pharma companies making this.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J. P. Nadda said in a informed Parliament statement in March 2016 that information regarding deaths reported due to non-availability of ASV is not maintained centrally.

Snake bite deaths

Between 2013-15, an estimated 3,252 deaths due snake bites were reported with West Bengal, Odisha , Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh accounting for the highest numbers.

Till 2006-07, BCPL manufactured ASVS at its Maniktala unit in east Kolkata. “However, this had to be stopped due to lack of GMP compliance at the unit,” P. M. Chandraiah, BCPL’s director finance and managing director in-charge told The Hindu.

An erstwhile sick PSU, BCPL has returned to profit and is now awaiting government nod to resume production of ASVS at the Maniktala unit.

“This would need around ₹30 crore capital expenditure and can generate a ₹30 crore turnover with four lakh vials capacity,” he said. It adopts the equine plasma method of making the ASVS which needs horses.

BCPL is under the Pharmaceuticals Department of the Union Chemicals and Fertiliser Ministry. Its product-mix is in three categories – industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and home products. Pharmaceuticals has the largest share in its turnover ( 64 % in 2017-18) , followed by cosmetics and home products (31 % ).

However with the government proposing a strategic sale of BCPL , the ASVS project went to the backburner although BCPL sees it as a growth opportunity. Alongside BCPL also plans to step up production of anti-cancer drugs, cardio vascular medicines and hypolipidemic drugs.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 10:50:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/bengal-chemicals-keen-on-resuming-anti-snake-venom-serum-production/article25854112.ece

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