Novartis announced that Australia has joined the growing number of countries where following licensure, Bexsero (Meningococcal Group B Vaccine) has received a clinical recommendation for the vaccine’s routine use to help protect against meningitis B. These recommendations follow recent access milestones for Bexsero in multiple regions across Europe, including some regions of Italy and Germany. Bexsero is the only broad coverage vaccine to help protect against meningitis B, a potentially deadly disease that disproportionately affects infants and adolescents.
Australia’s advisory body on immunization matters, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (ATAGI), has recommended Bexsero for all young Australians, with an emphasis on infants and children under two years of age and adolescents 15 to 19 years of age. Inclusion in the National Immunization Program is under consideration.
In Europe, Bexsero continues to gain endorsements from health authorities and experts:
- In Italy, the Basilicata region recommends Bexsero for the routine vaccination of infants and will have an active call to parents that includes providing the vaccine free of charge. The Board of Calendario per la Vita, comprised of the country’s foremost scientific societies, has recommended Bexsero for all infants with three doses in the first year of life and one dose at 13 months of age.
- In Germany, more than 35 statutory sickness funds (semi-public health insurance providers) have chosen to voluntarily reimburse Bexsero for all children (ages 2 months to 18 years). Bexsero is also recommended by the German Academy of Child and Adolescent Medicine (DAKJ), a leading pediatric association.
- Poland has a clinical recommendation for routine vaccination with Bexsero for infants, children and adolescents (starting at two months of age).
- In addition, the Czech Vaccinology Society has recommended vaccination with Bexsero for infants, toddlers and children (ages two months to 10 years), adolescents (ages 13 to 15 years) and other high-risk individuals.
“For a vaccine-preventable disease, every child lost or disabled is one too many,” said Andrin Oswald, division head, Novartis Vaccines. “These regional milestones are a testament to the public health benefits of Bexsero and we are hopeful that governments around the world will continue to act with a sense of urgency to help protect those most vulnerable from the devastation of meningitis B.”
Meningitis B is a rare but aggressive and often deadly disease; it is the leading cause of meningococcal disease and septicemia in the developed world. Meningitis B can kill or cause serious life-long disabilities within 24 hours of onset, leaving little time for intervention. Vaccination is therefore the best defense against this aggressive disease.
Bexsero is the only licensed broad coverage vaccine approved in the European Union, Canada and Australia to help protect against meningitis B, and has been available privately since 2013 with more than 500,000 doses shipped to date. Bexsero was also recently provided to students at Princeton University and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) in the United States (U.S.) under a treatment Investigational New Drug (IND) designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which was issued in response to meningitis B outbreaks on these campuses. To date, over 30,000 doses of Bexsero have been distributed in the United States.
Date: March 13, 2014