Sanofi-Aventis has made major inroads into the Indian vaccine market through a strategic agreement that will see Sanofi Pasteur acquire Mérieux Alliance’s French subsidiary ShanH, which owns a majority stake in vaccine company Shantha Biotechnics.

Under the terms of the agreement, the vaccines division of the Sanofi-Aventis group, Sanofi Pasteur will support the development of decently priced vaccines for the Indian subcontinent as well as international markets through Shantha.

The transaction valued at €550m is expected to significantly raise sales at Shantha up from $90m.

Sanofi-Aventis chief executive Christopher A Viehbacher said that Shantha would provide a portfolio of new vaccines in development, positioning the company to accelerate its growth in strategically important emerging markets.

“The state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities allow Sanofi Pasteur to gain high-quality capacity to enable us to provide important vaccines at affordable prices to many people around the world,” Viehbacher said.

Chairman of Mérieux Alliance Alain Mérieux said that in recent years Shantha had refocused its activity on vaccines and strengthened its range of products, especially by successfully launching a pentavalent paediatric vaccine as well as a Cholera vaccine.

Shantha is based in Hyderabad, India and develops, manufactures and markets several important vaccines. Notable successes include the development of SHANVAC-B™, the first recombinant Hepatitis B vaccine produced in India.

A new joint committee chaired by Alain Mérieux will also be set up to discuss a vaccine strategy for emerging markets.