Novartis Scores EU Approval for Meningitis Vaccine

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NYSE: NVS  ) announced in a press release Tuesday that the European Commission has granted approval for the company's vaccine for meningitis B (menB), Bexsero. It is the first approved vaccine for treating broad cases of this type of meningitis.

A European panel earlier backed Bexsero's approval bid in November 2012. The company plans to make Bexsero available as soon as possible in Europe, noting that menB is the leading cause of meningitis death in the continent. According to the release, Novartis has begun negotiating with European nations interested in including Bexsero in national immunization programs.

Andrin Oswald, head of Novartis' Vaccines and Diagnostics Division, is quoted in the company press release as saying, "Our vision is a world without meningitis, and our priority is to work with decision makers across Europe to ensure there is broad and timely access to vaccination."

Peak sales estimates vary, with projections of $700 million annually on the low end increasing to high-end estimates of $1 billion or more within the decade.

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