India's largest vial maker expects sales to triple on COVID-19 vaccine ramp up  

FILE PHOTO: Rishad Dadachanji, Managing Director of Schott Kaisha, speaks during an interview inside a boardroom at a manufacturing unit of Schott Kaisha, India's largest vial manufacturer, in Daman, India, December 2, 2020. Picture taken December 2, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

By Sachin Ravikumar

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian drug vial maker Schott Kaisha is expecting annual vial sales for COVID-19 shots to more than triple as vaccine production, including by one of its top customers Serum Institute, increases in response to a monster second wave of infections.

An Indo-German joint venture between specialty glass makers Schott AG and Kaisha, the company expects to sell 380 million vials for COVID-19 vaccines in 2021-22, up from 113 million a year earlier, Director Rishad Dadachanji said in an interview.

"The demand from our major customers has gone up two-fold, and is indicated to go up three-fold in the near future," Dadachanji said.

Serum Institute of India, which makes AstraZeneca's COVID-19 shot, is planning to produce 100 million doses a month from July, up from 70 million earlier. A single vial can typically store several vaccine doses.

A major vaccine hub, India has been running short of COVID-19 shots for its own people just when the pandemic has killed at least 114,000 people since mid-April.

Schott Kaisha is also in talks with Indian manufacturers of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine to supply millions of vials, but is yet to receive bulk orders, Dadachanji said. "We have received enquiries ... The quantities are still in discussion."

The company, which is India's largest maker of tubular borosilicate glass vials used to store drugs and vaccines by volume, is supplying vials for 14 COVID-19 vaccine candidates either in development or full production. 

It plans to increase its annual production capacity for the vials to 1.7 billion by year-end from 1.2 billion last year. The company by its own estimate has a 60%-65% market share.

In the market for vial manufacturing, its rival and German drug packager Gerresheimer, which has four plants in India, has hired more staff to meet the rising demand for COVID-19 vaccine vials, Jari Tevajarvi, vice president for Asia plastic packaging, told Reuters. 

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Coronavirus pandemic