The Basel-based drugmaker said the UK Joint
Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) had recommended
that infants from two months of age be vaccinated with Bexsero to
help protect against "MenB", a bacterial infection that can kill in
24 hours and poses the greatest risk to infants.
Bexsero is seen as crucial to Novartis' vaccines business, which has
struggled to catch up with the market leaders — GlaxoSmithKline,
Sanofi and Merck — and was the only one of the Swiss company's five
divisions to report a full-year operating loss in 2013.
Novartis is currently considering the future of the business as part
of a portfolio review, which is also examining the drugmaker's two
other sub-scale businesses, animal health and over-the-counter
The drugmaker's Chief Executive Joe Jimenez told Reuters that at
least one of the three is not expected to make the cut.
Bexsero won European approval last year to become the first vaccine
against meningitis B.
It has also been given the green light from regulators in Canada and
Australia and has been approved for use at several universities in
the United States in an effort to stop outbreaks of meningitis
[to top of second column]
The UK committee revised its original opinion against including
Bexsero in the routine vaccination program following a review of
further evidence, Novartis said. It hopes Bexsero will be available
free on Britain's National Health Service as early as this summer.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; editing by Jane Merriman)
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