Describing the strategic partnership as “critical,” Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics (NVD), a division of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, said Saudi Arabia and around 20 Middle Eastern and African countries need better access to conjugated vaccines for meningitis.
Under the twenty-year renewable agreement, Novartis said it will provide the “know-how” of vaccine manufacturing, while Arabio will begin distributing and licensing vaccines including Menveo, Quinvaxem and Agrippal, eventually progressing to packaging of vaccines, and ultimately to formulation and filling.
Novartis said the vaccines will be used to help prevent meningitis, seasonal influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, haemophilus influenza and hepatitis B.
Andrin Oswald, division head of Novartis vaccines and diagnostics, told Outsourcing-Pharma,”The partnership with Arabio shows our commitment to the Middle East,”
His sentiment was reinforced by a Novarits spokesperson, who said the Swiss-Saudi partnership will address “a significant unmet need [for meningitis vaccines] in countries with large Muslim populations participating in the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.”
According to the spokesperson, “These pilgrimages create crowded conditions that may increase the risk of contracting meningococcal disease.”
Rising demand for meningitis vaccines
As such Novartis claim Saudi Arabia’s annual demand for meningitis vaccines has reached around 1.5m doses, with some 500,000 cases of meningococcal disease occurring around the world, causing over 50,000 deaths.
Once the vaccine manufacturing operation begins, Arabio will be capable of producing 35m doses of Menveo in the form of vial injections, as well as 7m doses in pre-filled syringes, which should go some way to reducing Saudi Arabia’s shortfall of meningitis vaccines.
Novartis said all vaccines will be manufactured in Arabio’s newly opened Makkah plant, which is the first and largest of its kind in the Saudi kingdom specific to vaccine manufacture for common diseases, and all vaccines manufactured, will comply with guidelines set out by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Union (EU).