THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Novartis supplies meningitis B vaccine to Princeton to stem outbreak

Novartis, a Basel, Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, announced on Monday that it is supplying a meningococcal serogroup B vaccine to Princeton University to stem a campus outbreak that affected at least eight students.

Princeton's vaccination program with Bexsero began on Monday to help prevent further spread of the serious and unpredictable disease. According to Novartis, Bexsero is the first and only broad coverage vaccine that can protect against MenB.

"Over the last few weeks, we have been working closely with officials at Princeton and the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to put in place a timely and decisive response to the outbreak," Andrin Oswald, the division head of Novartis Vaccines, said. "This situation serves as a reminder that MenB can strike anyone at any time. Novartis is committed to continuing the dialogue with the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) to find a licensure pathway to bring a MenB vaccine to the U.S. to fulfill this unmet public health need for the future."

Bexsero, which is currently authorized for use in Canada, Australia and Europe, received approval from the FDA for a treatment investigational new drug application filed by the CDC for the use of the drug on the Princeton campus. The CDC is recommending the vaccine for all Princeton undergraduate students living in dormitories or off-campus and all graduate students living in dormitories.

MenB is a bacterial infection that can progress rapidly and result in death or permanent disability within 24 hours of symptom onset. Approximately one in 10 individuals who contract the disease will die despite treatment. One in five surviving individuals will suffer from life-long disabilities, such as hearing loss, limb loss or brain damage.

Novartis previously completed Phase I and Phase II studies for Bexsero in the U.S.