News Feature | August 1, 2014

Novartis' Vaccinates Over 45K People In Bexsero Campaign

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Novartis reported high uptake in its first large-scale public Bexsero vaccination program. The campaign was conducted in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region where the vaccine was offered to everyone aged 2 months through 20 years old.

The Quebec regional program reached more than 80 percent of its target population within the first three months. Novartis vaccinated over 45,000 babies, young children, and adolescents against the life-threatening infection. Between 2009 and 2011, 94 percent of patients infected with meningitis B were reported to be aged 1 to 24 years old. The region has seen a higher rate of meningitis B infection compared to other Quebec regions relative to its population. The company announced that it will supply second doses of the vaccines in the fall of this year as part of the campaign.

Bexsero is a broad coverage vaccine developed by Novartis as protection against invasive meningococcal disease caused by meningitis serogroup B. Meningitis B is a rare and aggressive disease that can kill or leave lasting disabilities within 24 hours of symptom onset. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded Breakthrough Status to the vaccine in April of this year. Novartis has also provided almost 30,000 vaccine doses to Princeton University and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) after a meningitis B outbreak. Bexsero was supplied to the universities under an FDA Investigational New Drug designation. The company filed a Biologic License Application (BLA) for Bexsero last month.

Andrin Oswald, Division Head of Novartis Vaccine, said, “A high level of uptake through a public vaccination program is critical to achieving community-wide protection against a devastating and unpredictable disease like meningitis B… We are committed to continuing to work with health authorities globally to ensure public access to Bexsero.”

The vaccination program will wrap up at the end of this year.