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.
The huge sales generated by Prevnar 13 mean Pfizer appears to have the pneumococcal vaccine sector sewn up, but Genocea Biosciences sees an opportunity to disrupt the monopoly. This week, the biotech began a Phase I clinical trial of the vaccine it thinks can unseat Prevnar.
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.
For most of the second half of the 20th century, whooping cough was a disease of the past, one of many previously common infections practically eliminated by vaccines. Since the 1980s the bacteria has fought back though, and now FDA researchers have a theory why--vaccines might not be stopping transmission.
For many people, vaccines trail only clean water on the list of interventions that have had the biggest effect on infectious diseases. Yet with many others fiercely opposed to vaccines, data is needed to support the argument. This week the data arrived, and it makes a strong case for the importance of vaccines.
While few question the necessity of the Defense Department's investments in protecting military personnel from biological threats, the scale and type of projects is a source of considerable controversy, as shown by the Pentagon's latest push into vaccine manufacturing.
When the World Health Organization released its first malaria vaccine technology roadmap in 2006, it put the development of a partly effective vaccine by 2015 at the top of its list of priorities. With GlaxoSmithKline nearing that goal, WHO has revised its plan with new targets for 2030.
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.
The reemergence of H7N9 in China during the past month has reinforced the need for a vaccine. Candidates from Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers have grabbed the headlines recently, but now a U.S. player, Novavax, has joined the race with positive Phase I data.
When the number of Syrians fleeing their war-torn state to live in neighboring countries topped two million, the United Nations refugee head called the situation a "humanitarian calamity." Now it is getting worse, with the potential for the refugees to carry polio across the Middle East and Europe causing alarm.