Novartis meningitis drug receives Innovative Product Award at ceremony

UK Prix Galien has awarded Novartis with its prestigious Innovative Product of the year Award at this year’s ceremony, for its meningitis drug, Bexsero.

Bexsero (Meningcoccal Group B Vaccine [rDNA component, absorbed]) is the first and only broadly protective Meningitis vaccine available to protect people from the virus.

The award is regarded as the highest distinction to bestow upon a pharmaceutical product, much to the delight of Dr Rino Rappualo, Global Head of Research and Development at Novartis Vaccines, who has said, “It is a great privilege to win the UK Prix Galien Award and a testament to the 20 years of innovation and pioneering research which led to the development of Bexsero.”

There are approximately 3,200 people affected by bacterial meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK. Unfortunately one in ten people who contract the disease will die despite receiving appropriate treatment and one in five survivors will go on to suffer from devastating and expensive, life-long disabilities; such as brain damage, hearing impairment or limb loss.

A ground-breaking approach to drug development, following Bexsero, now provides the foundation for a new generation of vaccines.

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, previous Chairman of the Prix Galien judging panel commented on Novartis’ win. He said, “Bexsero was the unanimous winner of the Innovative Product Award.” And due to the complex nature of the disease, Professor Rawlins also said “developing a vaccine has been extremely difficult. It is therefore fantastic that the pioneering research at Novartis has led to the use of genomic techniques in creating a broadly protective vaccine.”

The drug has been licensed in the UK since January 2013. It has also been suggested by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that Bexsero should be available to all UK infants from two months of age as part of the National Immunisation Programme.

Negotiations between Novartis and the Department of Health to secure Bexsero for the National Immunisation Programme are now in progress.