News Feature | March 21, 2014

JCVI Recommends Novartis' Meningitis B Vaccine Bexsero

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Novartis announced the positive opinion and recommendation of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) of Bexsero (Meningococcal Group B Vaccine [rDNA, component, adsorbed]). The Committee recommended that the vaccine be included in the UK’s National Immunisation Programme.

Andrin Oswald, Division Head of Novartis Vaccines, said, “Today's decision by the UK authorities brings tremendous relief to many parents and families who have lost loved ones to meningitis. 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.”

JCVI recommended that Novartis’ vaccine be routinely used in infants from two months of age to boost protection against meningococcal serogroup B or meningitis B. The Department of Health through the National Health Service will be the one to implement the program following the public procurement process.

Meningitis B is an aggressive, rare, and often deadly disease. It is a leading cause of septicemia and meningococcal disease in Europe. Meningitis B can lead to serious lifelong disabilities or even death within 24 hours of onset, underlining the need for vaccination as added protection. Not only infants but also adolescents are at risk for contracting meningitis. An estimated 3,200 people in the UK alone are afflicted with bacterial meningitis and septicemia every year, with meningitis B accounting for over half of those cases.

Dr Nelly Ninis, Consultant Pediatrician in London, said, “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. 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 currently the only approved and licensed broad coverage vaccine in Europe, Australia, and Canada for all vulnerable age groups from two months of age for protection against meningitis B. The vaccine is approved for use under a treatment Investigational New Drug (IND) designation as part of vaccination programs under Princeton University and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) in the U.S.