UK MenB vaccine update
30 July 2014
Latest news: as of 30 July 2014, the Novartis meningococcal group B (MenB) vaccine Bexsero® has cleared another hurdle on its way to being implemented in the UK. HM Treasury has approved the Department of Health’s (DH) business case, opening the way for formal negotiations to start with the manufacturer.
DH plans to issue a formal announcement in a few days. Meantime our Chief Executive, Christopher Head says: “This is very encouraging. We know these things take time, but with the business case now firmly established here’s hoping the pace picks up and we can start seeing lives saved from MenB in the near future.”
The news comes hard on the heels of a recent telephone meeting Chris had with the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor John Watson. Chris had explained that after years of campaigning with our members and supporters, we were thrilled when the vaccine was finally recommended for use by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in minutes published on 21 March, but frustrated that things seemed to have gone very quiet since then.
Professor Watson explained the business case was with HM Treasury, just as Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, had outlined when she presented at our Meningitis Meningitis Symposium in June. See her presentation: What Does It Take to Implement a New Vaccine
Professor Watson also commented on the number of questions in Parliament about MenB in recent weeks. This is very encouraging as our Patron, Sir Tony Cunningham MP, has also been among those MPs and members of the House of Lords asking questions in Westminster about the vaccine’s implementation. It’s good to know his efforts on our behalf are hitting home with the people that matter
But the fact that there is no clear timetable for this process still causes us some concern. It’s vital the Government agrees a price with the manufacturer as soon as possible so Public Health England can organise the vaccination programme and we can assist raising awareness and providing parents with information.
We simply cannot afford to let the heat die down when it comes to MenB and we shall continue campaigning throughout the holiday season. And if we think the MenB negotiations are stalling unnecessarily, we will make it a priority in all our contacts with the national media during our annual Meningitis Awareness Week, which starts on 15 September.
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