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Wockhardt launches first indigenous human recombinant insulin
Our Bureau, Mumbai | Tuesday, August 5, 2003, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Wockhardt Ltd has launched India's first recombinant human insulin (HI) "Wosulin," making India also the first Asian country to develop, manufacture and market the product. Priced at Rs. 129 per 10 ml vial, the Wokhardt's HI is based on the yeast Hansenula Polymorpha. Currently the company is the only manufacturer of recombinant HI using this technology in India .

Apart from the Indian player, Eli Lilly from US, Aventis from Germany and Novo Nordisk from Denmark are the only players marketing the product in the world, with a market of over $ 3 billion. Recently, the MNCs had cut their insulin prices by 35-40 per cent to Rs. 145-Rs. 262 per unit.

Launching the first Indian HI, Habil Khorakhiwala, chairman, Wockhardt, said that
worldwide, there are only three manufacturers of recombinant human insulin (HI) and the company is proud to have put India on the global map.

He added that HI manufactured by this process is identical to human body insulin. This process could synthesize large quantities of HI. Also the possible transmission of infectious diseases into the insulin, which on very few occasions happen with animal insulin, could be avoided here, he said.

"In India so far only Eli Lilly is marketing human insulin. The others Novo Nordisk and Aventis are marketing humanized insulin, which is animal insulin transformed into human insulin by a certain process," said Dr. M.K. Sahib, Director, Genomics and Biotechnology, Wockhardt. Eli Lilly develops its human insulin on E. Coli.

Current insulin market in the country is Rs. 2,000 crore of which, 90 per cent market is controlled by animal insulin and the balance by human insulin.

Recombinant insulin is made by synthesizing the gene that is responsible for the production of insulin in human pancreas and inserting it into the DNA of a microorganism. When this microorganism multiplies, it makes several copies of the gene. Each microorganism becomes a factory that produces insulin in large quantities. It is now possible to multiply these factories in desired numbers and command each cell to produce the desired product at a precise time.

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