Delhi-based biotechnology company Panacea Biotec is awaiting a nod from the World Health Organization (WHO) to resume supplying vaccines for the world immunisation programme from its units at Lalru (Haryana) and Baddi (Himachal Pradesh).

Speaking to Business Standard, a senior company official said, “We expect WHO officials to visit our units in Lalru and Baddi for prequalification next month. Recently, we had shifted the Easyfive pentavalent vaccine to our new unit in Baddi and once the plant is approved by WHO, we will be able to resume supplies for its immunisation programme.”

The government's move to issue compulsory licences (CLs) for three more patented cancer drugs is a jolt to multinational pharmaceutical companies.

The plan is to issue CLs for Trastuzumab (or Herceptin, used for treating breast cancer), Ixabepilone (used for chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment) and Dasatinib (or Sprycel, for leukaemia). These cost an average of $3,000-4,500 (Rs 1.64-2.45 lakh) for a month's treatment.

Last March, the Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma had won the first ever CL, to manufacture its generic version of Bayer's patent-protected anti-cancer drug, Nexavar. With the licence, Natco sold the drug at Rs 8,880 for a pack of 120 tablets, a month's therapy, as against Rs 2.8 lakh, the cost at which Bayer sells Nexavar.

Publicly-held biotechnology major Biocon Ltd on Friday announced it had entered into an agreement with the US-based $21-billion Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to further develop its IN-105, an oral insulin product candidate.

Biocon will use BMS’ expertise in clinical trials and get help in redesigning Phase-II trials of the blockbuster drug. Biocon has been working on this drug since 2004 and has so far spent close to $20 million. It had started the programme by partnering US-based Nobex, but later taken control as the latter declared bankruptcy in late 2005.

In its interim report, the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee has unanimously recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of GM food crops

Farmer community in Gujarat has raised objection to the union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar's appeal to the state governments to permit field trials of genetically modified (GM) food crops. Farmer body, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has alleged that Pawar has colluded with the multi-national seed companies to act against the interests of the country's farmers.

Batches of the world’s first vaccine against the hepatitis E virus began rolling out of a Chinese factory, promising to stem a disease that every year infects about 20 million people and claims 70,000 lives. The vaccine is being hailed as a victory for an unusual public–private partnership that could set a precedent in China’s burgeoning biotechnology sector, and help to deliver other vaccines for diseases overlooked in the West.

It contributed to a cumulative national farm income of $9.4 bn between 2002 and 2010

Bt cotton has delivered significant benefits to all members of the agricultural value chain in the country, and has contributed to a cumulative national farm income of about $9.4 billion between 2002 and 2010, turning India from an importer of cotton to an exporter, according to T M Manjunath, a consultant in agricultural biotechnology and integrated pest management.

Discard Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, say NGOs

The Coalition for GM Free India; Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad; and Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture have called upon the Union government to enact a comprehensive National Biosafety Protection Law to address the risks posed by genetic engineering.

Passionate arguments were heard on Wednesday for and against GM or genetically-modified technology in an event that was held on the sidelines of the CoP MoP 6. Scientists from Europe and Africa presented their studies on the observed health effects of GM foods and the resistance that insects are developing towards GM varieties.

Representatives of the GM industry offered counter-arguments and said the evidence presented in two papers was incorrect. Robin Mesnage, a scientist at the University of Caen in France was part of a study that found tumours developing in rats after they were fed Bt maize with and without a herbicide called Roundup. The paper was published in the prestigious journal, Food and Chemical Technology.

Europe has never been particularly fond of genetically modified (GM) foods, but a startling research paper looks set to harden public and political opposition even further, despite a torrent of scepticism from scientists about the work. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, looked for adverse health effects in rats fed NK603 maize (corn), developed by biotech company Monsanto to resist the herbicide glyphosate and approved for animal and human consumption
in the European Union, United States and other countries.

A group of researchers and industry writers have constructed a narrative of technological triumph for Bt cotton in India, based on an empirical record of superior performance compared to conventional seed. Counterclaims of Bt cotton failure are attributed to mutually reinforcing interactions among non-governmental organisations which avoid rigorous comparisons. However, researchers and the biotechnology industry are also engaged in a similar authentication loop for generating, validating, and publicising such facts.