Does cost effectiveness study undervalue the impact of meningitis?

Does cost effectiveness study undervalue the impact of meningitis?

10 October 2014

Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) welcomes the publication of the cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) of new Men B vaccine Bexsero® in today’s BMJ1, but is concerned that the model considerably undervalues the devastating impacts of the disease.

MRF believes the fatality rate for meningococcal group B disease (MenB) was underestimated in the analysis. The model uses a rate of 4%, but wider research reports rates in the region of 5 – 10%. We’re also concerned that the after effects many survivors live with every day are underestimated.

This study informed the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI’s) recent recommendation on the introduction of the new Men B vaccine which until now has not been in the public domain. In March 2014 the JCVI recommended that the vaccine be offered to babies at 2, 4 and 12 months of age as long as the Department of Health can obtain the vaccine at a cost effective price.

Christopher Head, CEO of MRF said : “The use of CEA to decide which vaccines should be implemented runs the risk of transforming vaccines into cost saving measures rather than interventions which alleviate human suffering, death and disability.

We believe that the methodology is not robust enough to capture all health benefits gained from introducing this vaccine which prevents rare and serious illness in children nor does it fairly represent the preferences of the public.

There is strong evidence2 that the public prefer prevention over cures, and would rather prevent death or severe disability in a few than mild illness among the many. But CEA does not reflect these preferences. Children are at a disadvantage because much higher importance is placed on immediate health benefits compared with those that are sustained far into the future. For this pioneering vaccine to stand a chance of being purchased at a fair price it is vital that the parameters used in the model are not underestimated.

Price negotiations between the vaccine manufacturer and the Dept of Health are currently under way. We estimate that over 1,700 people contract MenB every year. It is now a vaccine preventable disease and we urge the department of health and the vaccine manufacturer to conclude these negotiations positively as soon as possible.”

Media contacts: For further information on MRF please contact: Jane Futrell, Head of Communications on 01454 280406 or email:


1 H. Christensen, C. Trotter, M. Hickman and W. J. Edmunds. Re-evaluating cost effectiveness of universal meningitis vaccination (Bexsero) in England: modelling study. BMJ 2014;349:g5725

2 Luyten J, Goos P, Kessels R, Beutels P. Prevention, cure and public preferences for funding health care: a D-efficient discrete choice experiment. International Health Economics Association, 9th World Congress, 7-10 July 2013, Sydney, Australia.

Notes to Editors:
  • MRF estimates that there are around 3,200 cases of meningitis and septicaemia every year in the UK. They are easily mistaken for milder illnesses, but unlike a dose of flu can kill within hours and may cause serious, life-long disabilities. As many as one in ten of those affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness and hearing loss.
  • We have invested £17.5million on 140 research projects since the charity was launched 25 years ago. 
  • We spend around £1m annually supporting those affected and raising awareness. Our Freefone helpline – 080 8800 3344 – provides information to the general public and those affected by the disease.
  • We provide symptoms information, research and case studies at
  • Donations can be made online but people can also donate £5 from their mobile phone by texting GIFT00 £5 to 70070

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Sam Williams
Media Relations Manager

Hi, I’m Sam and I’m MRF's PR Manager.

If you want to know more about this story call me on 0333 405 626251, out of office hours on 07875 498047 or email me