Wockhardt at the forefront of UK vaccination: Report
New Delhi: The race to vaccinate Britain has also offered a shot at redemption for Wockhardt, a once high-flying Indian pharmaceutical company that was investigated by US regulators over failings at its plants, Financial Times reported.
The group now has a critical role in delivering the jab to millions. A Wockhardt-owned plant in the Welsh town of Wrexham is responsible for putting the vaccine in vials and packaging it for dispatch to the UK regulator for inspection, the report said.
The report said although Wockhardt has supplied medicines to the UK's NHS for many years, the biggest vaccination programme in the country's history brings a new degree of pressure for a company whose halcyon days were in the 2000s.
The company's international expansion took it into the UK in 1998, when it acquired Wallis Laboratories. Five years later, the group bought CP Pharmaceuticals in Wrexham. Its presence is now paying off, with Wockhardt part of a consortium, including Oxford BioMedica and Cobra Biologics, tasked with helping the UK government meet its ambitious goal of vaccinating 2 million people a week.
Under the contract, the Wrexham plant will fill vials with the vaccine and then package them for 18 months. The site, which on Wednesday successfully battled the threat of floodwater after heavy rain, has previously manufactured a range of treatments for diabetes, anticoagulation and pain management that are sold in vials, cartridges and ampoules, Financial Times said.
Habil Khorakiwala, Wockhardt's chairman, hailed a "huge sense of purpose and pride", after the UK government awarded the group the contract in August. On a visit to the plant in November, Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that it could offer "salvation for humanity".
Khorakiwala told Financial Times that the company was selected because of its long record in the UK and that its Wrexham plant had capacity available. "We are a major supplier of injectables to the UK government for the last many years," Khorakiwala said.
"We were one of the companies they evaluated, we had capacity, they reserved a certain facility with us." The 78-year-old entrepreneur added that Wockhardt, which supplies antibiotics and other products to the NHS, has "committed to supply whatever they need up to about 200m doses per year". The plant is handling the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Wockhardt Chairman said he was also exploring vaccine distribution and marketing opportunities in the company's home market, as per the report.