Healthcare: Novartis seeks help for meningitis drug

Pharma giant Novartis has a global brief out to pitch for its groundbreaking meningitis vaccine, PRWeek understands.

In June, the Swiss drug company revealed promising results from a trial for the 4CmenB vaccine.

The jab protects against meningitis B, the deadliest strain of the disease in the UK, for which there is currently no protection.

Novartis expects that the drug could be available by the end of the year.

PRWeek has learned that a search is under way for an agency to handle a global PR brief for the drug.

The search is thought to be in the early stages, with selected agencies recently invited to submit written proposals and a pitch shortlist being drawn up as PRWeek went to press.

The brief is likely to be managed out of Novartis' vaccines and diagnostics division in Basel, Switzerland. A spokesman for the division declined to comment.

In the UK, meningitis B affects more than 1,200 people a year and causes 120 deaths.

A study conducted by Novartis on the 4CmenB vaccine showed it protected against 80 per cent of the 1,000 strains of meningitis collected across Europe.

Commenting on release of the data on 9 June, the chief executive of Meningitis UK, Steve Dayman, said: 'This data is a very positive step in the fight to eradicate meningitis B, which is the biggest killer of all types of meningitis in the UK.

'This vaccine is the first of its kind and has the potential to save thousands of lives.'

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