Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products Co., which acts as a sales agent exclusively to American pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc., has gained approval to send a vaccine designed to prevent rotavirus diarrhea in children to market.
The China Food and Drug Administration gave the greenlight for sales of the pentavalent vaccine on April 13, the Securities Times reported. The Chinese firm expects to begin marketing the medicine in China in the third quarter to start raking in net profit of CNY500 million (USD80 million) every year.
Rotavirus is the primary cause of diarrhea in infants and young children and, according to World Health Organization data, killed 215,000 children under the age of five in 2013, making up 3.4 percent of all infant deaths worldwide. In China, nearly 40,000 children a year lose their life to the disease, making up about 12 percent of deaths of children under five.
The rotavirus vaccine sold in China is fairly basic, and even though sales are not high, it still brings in annual sales of CNY1 billion. No other pharma firms have applied for clinical trials of a pentavalent rotavirus vaccine in the country.
The drug will be the second of Merck’s that Zhifei Biological has taken to market in China in six months, after the company began distributing a cervical cancer vaccine in November. Zhifei Biological estimated at the time that the cancer vaccine would bring in orders of more than CNY6.5 billion (USD1 billion) over the next five years.