Meningitis B vaccine to be approved
16th November 2012 - The European Medicines Agency is recommending approval of first vaccine for meningitis B.
Vaccines already exist to protect against meningococcal disease caused by meningitis A, C, W135 and Y. The vaccine is designed to protect against meningococcal B meningitis and septicaemia (MenB) and to cover most strains of the disease found in Europe. It can be given to people all ages from two months old.
Despite medical treatment and effective antibiotics, 8% of European patients who get meningitis B die from it and around 11-19% of those who survive suffer complications, such as brain damage, learning disabilities and hearing loss.
The UK, Ireland, Belgium and Spain are currently parts of Europe with higher incidence rates of meningitis B. The Meningitis Research Foundation says MenB is responsible for an average of 1,870 cases across the UK each year, mostly in young children.
The new vaccine called Bexsero is recommended by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) for EU approval. It would then need to be signed off by the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, but could be available towards the end of 2013.
Reacting to the EMA decision in a statement, Chris Head, chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation says: "We have a vision of a world free from meningitis and septicaemia so this news is a huge boost for our members and their families, and for doctors and scientists who have all worked tirelessly against this devastating disease.
"Since the first meningitis vaccine was introduced in 1992, many strains of meningitis including Hib, MenC and pneumococcal have been dramatically reduced. Once the MenB vaccine is licensed, it is essential that Government give it full consideration as soon as possible, especially given the shocking lifetime costs to people who survive MenB and are left with serious, life-long disabilities. We must not allow children to die from this disease if it can be prevented."
Also reacting in a statement, Sue Davie, chief executive of the Meningitis Trust says: "Today's news is the most significant step forward in the fight against meningitis in recent years. This vaccine (Bexsero) has been highly anticipated as it will protect against the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK."