Novartis' Meningococcal B vaccine Bexsero approved for use in Canada

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada, Inc., announced on Wednesday that its multicomponent meningococcal B vaccine Bexsero is now available in Canada.

The vaccine was approved for use in persons two months to 17 years of age. Bexsero is the first vaccine to inoculate against meningococcal serogroup B. Other meningococcal vaccines only protect against A,C, W and Y strains.

"Bexsero is an important milestone in the fight against meningococcal disease, offering Canadian families protection against MenB, the remaining and most common strain of the disease," Ron Gold, the Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada senior medical advisor and retired chief of infectious disease at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, said. "Canadian parents now have peace of mind knowing that they have access to this vaccine to help protect their families from a disease that can progress rapidly, affecting anyone at any time."

MenB is the most common strain of meningococcal disease in Canada. The strain causes more than 80 percent of meningitis cases in infants younger than 1 year of age.

The virus can cause death in 24 to 48 hours. Symptoms can resemble the flu, which often leads to misdiagnoses during early stages of infection.

Bexsero was approved by Health Canada in December. The vaccine also has been approved for use in Europe and Australia.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada is a leader in the research and development of innovative healthcare products. The company is a subsidiary of Novartis AG.