Cipla gets nod to import Moderna’s vaccine for restricted use in India

Moderna's vaccine will be the fourth COVID-19 jab to be available in India after Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik

India’s drug regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has granted permission to Mumbai-based pharmaceutical company Cipla to import Moderna’s COVID vaccine for “restricted emergency use” in the country.

Moderna’s vaccine will be the fourth COVID-19 jab to be available in India after Covishield, Covaxin and Sputnik.

“The DCGI has granted permission to Cipla to import Modernas COVID vaccine for restricted emergency use in the country as per the provisions of the New Drugs and Clinical Trial Rules , 2019 under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940,” a source said.

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In separate communication, Moderna, on June 27, informed DCGI that the US government has agreed to donate a certain number of doses of its COVID vaccine through COVAX to India for use here and sought approval from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) for the vaccines.

On June 28, Cipla, on behalf of the US pharma major, requested the drug regulator for import and marketing authorisation of these jabs.

“This permission is for restricted use in emergency situations in the public interest. The firm has to submit 7 days safety assessment of the vaccine in first 100 beneficiaries before rolling out of the vaccine for further immunisation programme, according to the approval order,” an official said.

Again on June 28, Cipla filed the application seeking permission for import of Moderna’s vaccine referring to DCGI notices dated April 15 and June 1 according to which if the vaccine is approved by The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA), the vaccine can be granted marketing authorisation without bridging trial and assessment of safety data of first 100 beneficiaries of vaccines shall be submitted before rolling out in immunisation programme.

Also, the requirement of testing of every batch by Central Drugs Laboratory (CDL), Kasauli can be exempted if the batch/lot is released by the CDL of country of origin, however summary lot protocol review and scrutiny of documents shall be undertaken by the laboratory for batch release according to standard procedures, Cipla said referring to the DCGIs new revised rules.

Also read: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines provide immunity for years: Study

Further, Moderna, through a separate communication, informed that the US government has agreed to donate a certain number of doses of the Moderna vaccine, mRNA-1273, through COVAX to the government of India for use in the country and has submitted the dossiers through e-mail.

“This correspondence is to request the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) to open a file for approval of these urgently needed vaccines,” Moderna said.

On June 1,  in a bid to expedite the rollout of vaccines,  the DCGI decided to waive testing of batches at CDL for foreign-manufactured vaccines that have been approved by international drug regulators such as the USFDA, the UK’s MHRA or the WHO.

Also read: Moderna says its COVID-19 vaccine candidate has 94.5% efficacy

The central government in April issued detailed guidelines and proactively eased the entry of foreign-made COVID-19 vaccines approved by USFDA, European Medicines Agency (EMA), UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), and WHO’s Emergency Use Listing into India.

According to the guidelines, these vaccines will not need to undergo prior bridging trials. The provision was further amended to waive off the trial requirement altogether for the well-established vaccines manufactured in other countries.

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