leprosy vaccine soon: Ahmedabad-based Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited has planned to launch the world's first immuno-therapeutic leprosy vaccine, called Leprovac by June this year. Pran Talwar and his colleagues at the National Institute of Immunology (NII) have developed the vaccine that would cost Rs 6 per dose and of Rs 50 for a total of eight doses over a period of two years.

petrochemical project: The US-based company, Exxon has announced that despite an economic slump in East Asia, it would set up its US $400 million petrochemical plant in Thailand. The plant would produce 350,000 tonnes of paraxylene annually. Paraxylene is a raw material used to make purified terepthalic acid (PTA). The facility is expected to start operations by 1999. The plant would be fully integrated with the Esso Thailand 145,000 barrels-per-day refinery along Thailand's eastern seaboard industrial region.

mega merger: SmithKline Beecham PLC and American Home Products Corporation have discussed a possible merger that if successful, would create a global giant rivalling Glaxo Wellcome PLC, Merck & Co and Novartis Ag in annual sales and market value. According to sales figures in 1996, a SmithKline-American Home Products combination would surpass Glaxo Wellcome to become the world's top company measured by annual prescription-drug sales. SmithKline's bestsellers range from antibiotics and antidepressant drugs to a thriving oral-care products business including Aquafresh toothpaste. One of the few areas likely to draw scrutiny from antitrust watchdogs would be vaccines, where both companies rank among the handful of global leaders.

fight against hepatitis: Shantha Biotecnics Limited and Biological E Limited have joined hands for making Shanvac-B, the country's first genetically-engineered hepatitis B vaccine, available all over the country. The vaccine is presently being marketed by Shantha Biotechnics in Delhi, Maharashtra and the southern peninsula. Under the agreement, Biological E will market the product in the eastern and northern regions except Delhi. Both the companies said that the product has already been investigated by independent government authorities.

bold venture: Denmark-based Cheminova Agro, one of the biggest producers of generic pesticides, has acquired 100 per cent share holdings in Lupin Agrochemicals (India) Limited. The proposed name of the new company is Cheminova. The company has planned to invest Rs 626 million for the acquisition of Lupin Agro and expansion of the equity. Cheminova plans to improve standards of safety and environments protection and also upgrade technical and intermediate manufacturing facilities in India.

healthcare kits: Sintex Industries Limited will diversify into healthcare. The Rs 150-crore company would manufacture and market homeopathic kits. The company has launched three homeopathic kits priced at Rs 229 at the retail level. The family kit consists of 24 selected medicines which can treat all common ailments such acidity, indigestion, constipation and common cold. The travel kit has six medicines and the injury kit has 12. It plans to invest about Rs 2 crores in research and development over the next two years.

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