Pfizer meningitis drug gains European approval for young patients

Young people can be misled by meningococcal disease symptoms, which can resemble the flu.
Young people can be misled by meningococcal disease symptoms, which can resemble the flu. | File photo

Trumenba, Pfizer’s branded vaccine against certain forms of meningococcal disease, officially won approval from the European Commission for patients aged 10 years and up, representing progress for protection in the young adult demographic.

The product is a Meningococcal Group B Vaccine and won U.S. approval in 2014. Researchers explained that adolescents and young adults are at a slightly elevated risk for meningococcal disease due to environmental and social factors, including living quarters and travel.

“The approval … reflects our dedication to advancing novel vaccines that can help protect adolescents and young adults, a population at an increased risk for meningococcal disease caused by MenB,” said Luis Jodar, who serves as Pfizer Vaccines’ chief medical and scientific affairs officer for medicine development, scientific and clinical affairs. “Though uncommon, MenB disease is unpredictable, can progress rapidly and is associated with a significant risk of death and long-term disability, demonstrating the value of immunization as a preventive measure.”

The new MenB product is dispensed in either two or three doses. Young people can be misled by symptoms, which can resemble the flu, said Pfizer spokespersons, and undiagnosed meningococcal disease can prove fatal quickly. Pfizer intends to outlay funding to build ample stock of the vaccine in Europe, where 60 percent of the cases stem from a particular “serogroup B.”

Trmenba’s approval is authorized for all European Union nations along with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, with further marketing reviews currently underway elsewhere.

“We are also focused on consistent, reliable supply for all the vaccines we manufacture, including a full 36-month shelf life with Trumenba,” Pfizer Vaccines President and GM Susan Silbermann said. “With the EC approval … Pfizer now has a comprehensive portfolio of vaccines to help prevent five of the most common disease-causing meningococcal serogroups in this region.”

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