By Sachin Ravikumar

BENGALURU (Reuters) – India’s Piramal Glass Pvt Ltd has seen a 30% jump in sales of specialty vials used to bottle medicines in the June quarter, led by a surge in demand as more drugs are being made to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior executive told Reuters.

The privately held Mumbai-based firm, part of Indian billionaire Ajay Piramal’s drugs-to-financial services conglomerate, is projecting a 30% bump in revenue from Type 1 borosilicate glass vials in 2020-21, Piramal Glass Vice-Chairman Vijay Shah said last week.

“There has been an upsurge in demand because of some adjunct therapies being used in hospitals for COVID patients,” Shah said.

Shah did not specify revenue figures for Piramal’s vials business, but assured it was in a position to double output of borosilicate glass used in vials to 90 tons per day, if given a month’s advance notice. The firm, one of the world’s largest glass packagers with four plants, now produces 45 tons per day of such glass, translating to about 1.2 million vials a day.

The projections come as drugmakers warn of a potential shortage of specialty glass vials to store future COVID-19 vaccines.

“News that there may be a shortage of vials is unfounded, because there is sufficient capacity in the industry to increase production if needed,” Shah said.

The firm has been in talks with France’s Sanofi and Indian firms Cadila Healthcare, Bharat Biotech, and state-run BIBCOL for possible deals.

Shah said Cadila had asked Piramal Glass to reserve production for hundreds of thousands of vials for the next three months for dexamethasone, a steroid hailed as a breakthrough for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

Bharat Biotech – which is developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine – and BIBCOL asked Piramal to reserve output for tens of millions of vials, Shah said.

Representatives at Cadila, Bharat Biotech and BIBCOL did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Bernard Orr)