Novartis starts supplying meningitis B vaccine to Princeton


ZURICH, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Novartis said on Monday it had started supplying its meningitis B vaccineto Princeton University in an effort to stop an outbreak ofmeningitis on the Ivy League campus.

Although the vaccine, called Bexsero, is not yet approved inthe United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasgiven the green light to its use at Princeton following anInvestigational New Drug application from the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Eight students at the university have been diagnosed withthe serogroup B strain of meningitis, a potentially fatalinfection that causes swelling of the brain and spinal cord andcan kill within 24 hours.

It is spread through coughing and exchanges of saliva, andpeople living in dormitories or other crowded living quartersare especially at risk.

Bexsero will be provided to all undergraduate students aswell as graduate students who live in dormitories on oroff-campus, Novartis said.

The vaccine is currently licensed for use in Europe,Australia and Canada. Novartis has completed Phase I and PhaseII trials for the vaccine in the United States and is indiscussions with regulators about the path to approval.

The drugmaker is counting on Bexsero to turn around theprospects of its vaccines business, which has gobbled upresearch and spending cash and lost money in the first ninemonths of the year.

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