Men B vaccine and TB drug win innovation UK

The first TB medication to be approved in four decades, and the first ever vaccine to treat invasive meningococcal disease have be named as the winners of this year’s UK Prix Galien awards.

The awards are held every two years and are judged by a distinguished panel of UK health leaders. Similar Prix Galien awards are held in other countries, including France and the US.

Bexsero, developed by Novartis, and Sirturo, developed by Janssen, beat off competition from the largest-ever number of finalists to win the top accolades at the 2014 UK Prix Galien, which culminated in a glittering ceremony at London’s House of Commons.

Chairman of the judging panel (and former chairman of NICE) Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, said: “The Prix Galien is about recognising the contribution that new medicines make to the lives of people with life‐threatening conditions. We had an outstanding group of contenders this year – with a total of 14 shortlisted products across both the Innovative Product and Orphan Drug award. The submissions were all fascinating and beautifully presented – but there were clear winners in each category.”

Innovative Product Award

The Innovative Product Award was won by Novartis’ Bexsero – the first broad coverage vaccine to help protect against meningitis B. Approved in the EU in 2013, Bexsero is indicated to help protect all age groups against meningococcal serogroup B disease, including infants – who are the most vulnerable.

“Bexsero was the unanimous winner of the Innovative Product Award,” said Prof Sir Michael. “Invasive meningococcal disease manifests as either meningitis and/or septicaemia – which can be difficult to diagnose – and its rapid progression. Developing a vaccine, however, has been extremely difficult. It is therefore fantastic that the pioneering research at Novartis has led to the use of genomic techniques in creating a broadly protective vaccine.

“Bexsero has already been recommended for inclusion in the UK’s immunisation schedule for infants – and we warmly applaud our new-found ability to address what was a big gap in childhood disease prevention.”

Two further drugs were ‘highly commended’ by the judging panel; Dificlir (marketed by Astellas) for Clostridium difficile infection, and Lemtrada (Genzyme) for multiple sclerosis.

The panel noted that Dificlir’s narrow spectrum of activity – and ability to save the microbiome within the gut – was of great benefit. Similarly, it acknowledged that as a humanised monoclonal antibody therapy, Lemtrada had been shown to have better efficacy compared to high‐dose sub-cutaneous interferon – and had the added advantage of needing only a short course of treatment.

Orphan Drug Award

The 2014 Orphan Drug Award was won by Janssen’s Sirturo, the first medication for pulmonary multi‐drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR‐TB) with a novel mechanism of action in over 40 years. Sirturo (bedaquiline), which is administered by directly observed therapy, is indicated as part of combination therapy in adults with pulmonary MDR‐TB.

“Two million people will develop MDR-TB between 2011 and 2015,” said Professor Sir Michael. “It is a WHO priority disease. There has also been an increase in the number of MDR‐TB cases in the UK over the last decade. Treatment is complex, requiring years of medication and extensive medical support – with less than 50 per cent of patients having a successful outcome.”

To read the stories behind some of the shortlisted drugs, read our in-depth coverage in these related articles:

UK Prix Galien: First therapy for pulmonary fibrosis

UK Prix Galien: New treatment for multidrug-resisitant TB

UK Prix Galien: Astellas C.diff drug on innovation shortlist

UK Prix Galien: Meningitis vaccine shortlisted

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