Novartis announced that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) in the UK has recommended the inclusion of Bexsero (Meningococcal Group B Vaccine) in the National Immunization Program. According to the recommendation, Bexsero should be routinely used in infants from two months of age to help protect against meningococcal serogroup B (meningitis B). The implementation will be carried out by the Department of Health through the National Health Service (NHS), following the public procurement process.
“[The] decision by the UK authorities brings tremendous relief to many parents and families who have lost loved ones to meningitis,” said Andrin Oswald, division head, Novartis Vaccines. “At Novartis, it took us over 20 years of hard work to get to this point. Protecting infants who are the most vulnerable will be a great achievement. It is also a strong motivator for us to continue our efforts to protect all children and adolescents against this devastating disease, in the UK and elsewhere in the world.”
Meningitis B is a rare but aggressive and often deadly disease. It is the leading cause of meningococcal disease and septicemia in Europe. Meningitis B can kill or cause serious life-long disabilities within 24 hours of onset, leaving little time for intervention. Like infants, adolescents are also at an increased risk for contracting meningitis and have a high fatality rate from the disease. Approximately 3,200 people in the UK are affected by bacterial meningitis and septicemia each year, with meningitis B responsible for more than half of those cases. Vaccination is therefore the best defense against this aggressive disease.
“I applaud the JCVI for taking the right decision to make this life-saving vaccine available to babies and am delighted that the UK is once again leading the way in meningococcal disease prevention. However I would urge that toddlers and adolescents should also be offered protection,” said Dr. Nelly Ninis, consultant pediatrician, London. “No child should suffer the devastation of a preventable disease, especially one that can be fatal within hours, and leave many of its survivors maimed and impacted for life.”
Bexsero is the only licensed broad coverage vaccine approved in Europe, Canada and Australia for all vulnerable age groups from two months to help protect against meningitis B. It was also approved for use in the United States under a treatment Investigational New Drug (IND) designation as part of vaccination programs at Princeton University and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). The recent outbreaks of meningitis B in the US demonstrate the dynamic and unpredictable nature of this disease and the need for broad coverage protection through vaccination. Novartis continues to work with health authorities around the world where meningitis B remains an unmet public health need to support broad and timely access to the vaccine.
Date: March 21, 2014
Filed Under: Drug Discovery