While the meningitis B outbreak has died down, the debate it stirred up continues. This week researchers at the Manhattan Institute weighed in with their opinion: If a vaccine is good enough for Europe, it is good enough for the U.S..
Last week Novartis' vaccine unit posted yet another operating loss, extending its streak in the red to four years. Yet despite its well-known, long-term problems, suitors are reportedly circling the unit, with the potential of Bexsero and Menveo likely to be a factor attracting potential buyers.
The meningitis B outbreak at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has slowed for now, with no new cases on the campus since November. However, authorities still view the bacteria as a threat and are trying to get clearance to use Novartis' Bexsero. When that will happen is unclear, though.
Californian health officials have asked for permission to use Novartis' unapproved meningitis B vaccine Bexsero to control an outbreak at a college.
Bexsero has always carried high expectations at Novartis. As the vaccine unit posted loss after loss in recent years, Novartis pitched the meningitis B vaccine to investors as the product that would usher in an era of consistent profitability. This is yet to happen, but the slow rollout of the vaccine continues.
Princeton University will not begin to offer Novartis' meningitis B vaccine to Bexsero to students until next week, but health officials are already considering expanding the campaign to another university. An outbreak at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is the cause of the latest concerns.
Novartis has been wanting to get its meningitis vaccine Bexsero into the U.S. market. Thanks to an outbreak at Princeton University, that's going to happen sooner than the Swiss drugmaker thought. Ahead of FDA approval, in fact.
As a meningitis outbreak has slowly spread across Princeton University over the past 8 months, the case for vaccinating students has grown stronger. The only hitch is that the vaccine, Novartis' Bexsero, has yet to win approval in the U.S. Now, though, health authorities are willing to work around this obstacle.
Novartis' Bexsero may be the only vaccine approved for life-threatening meningitis B, but that wasn't enough to convince the U.K.'s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to add it to Britain's routine vaccination schedule.
Bringing a new vaccine to market in Europe is tough. After winning approval at the European level, manufacturers must show the value of the product to national decision makers. Novartis is in the middle of this process with its meningitis B vaccine, and still has a long way to go.