Novartis has received clinical recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) for its Bexsero meningococcal group B vaccine (rDNA, component, adsorbed) for use in infants and adolescents in the country.
ATAGI has recommended the meningitis B vaccine for all young Australians, with an emphasis on infants and children under two years of age and adolescents 15-19 years of age.
Inclusion in the National Immunisation Program is also under consideration.
Bexsero has already received recommendations in Italy, Germany, Poland and Czech Republic.
In Italy, the Board of Calendario per la Vita has recommended Bexsero vaccination for all infants with three doses in the first year of life and one dose at 13 months of age.
The German Academy of Child and Adolescent Medicine has recommended Bexsero, and more than 35 statutory sickness funds (semi-public health insurance providers) have chosen to voluntarily reimburse Bexsero for all children (ages two months to 18 years).
Poland has a clinical recommendation for routine vaccination with Bexsero for infants, children and adolescents (starting at two months of age).
The Czech Vaccinology Society has recommended the meningitis B vaccine for infants, toddlers and children (ages two months to ten years), adolescents (ages 13-15 years) and other high-risk individuals.
According to Novartis, Bexsero is the only licensed broad coverage vaccine approved in the EU, Canada and Australia to help protect against meningitis B.
Bexsero has been available privately since 2013 with more than 500,000 doses shipped to date.
Novartis Vaccines division head Andrin Oswald noted that for a vaccine-preventable disease, every child lost or disabled is one too many.
"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," Oswald added.
Recently, the meningitis B vaccine has been provided to students at Princeton University and the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) in the US under a treatment investigational new drug designation from the US Food and Drug Administration, which was issued in response to meningitis B outbreaks on these campuses.
Image: Novartis headquarters in Basel, Germany. Photo courtesy of Andrew Hecht.