European drug regulator OKs Novartis' meningitis B vaccine, 1st shot to protect against strain

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LONDON - Europe's top drug regulator has recommended approval for the first vaccine against meningitis B, made by Novartis AG.

There are five types of bacterial meningitis. While vaccines exist to protect against the other four, none has previously been licensed for type B meningitis. In Europe, type B is the most common, causing several thousand cases every year.

Meningitis mainly affects infants and children. It kills about 8 per cent of patients and leaves others with lifelong consequences, like brain damage.

In a statement on Friday, Andrin Oswald of Novartis said he was "proud of the major advance" the company had made in developing its vaccine Bexsero.

Recommendations from the European Medicines Agency are usually adopted by the European Commission. Novartis is also seeking to test the vaccine in the U.S.

Organizations: Novartis AG, European Medicines Agency, European Commission

Geographic location: Europe, LONDON, U.S.

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