Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila says it is the first Indian pharmaceutical company to start multicentre clinical trials with a vaccine against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus.

The Drug Controller General of India has approved the trial application for an egg-based inactivated H1N1 vaccine developed by Zydus Cadila at its Vaccine Technology Centre in Ahmedabad. According to the company, accelerated trials and fast-track approvals should bring the vaccine to market by April this year.

“India’s readiness with a vaccine that is safe and effective in Indian conditions is critical as we go all out to create an H1N1-free zone,” commented Pankaj Patel, chairman and managing director of Zydus Cadila.

Demand for an H1N1 vaccine in India is estimated at 50-60 million doses in the initial phase, the company says. Recent updates indicate that the country has recorded more than 21,000 confirmed cases of swine flu since the virus first struck in May 2009, with the loss of over 900 lives to date.