Ritchie Says Meningitis B Vaccine Negotiations Must Start Now

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie (SDLP) has called on the Department of Health to prioritise negotiations with drugs firm Novartis so that the meningitis B vaccine Bexsero can be introduced as soon as possible.dn_screen

Ms Ritchie said: “In a recent response to my Parliamentary Question the UK Minister for Health admitted that procurement negotiations with Novartis, the company who produce the vaccine, have not yet begun. “It is worrying that it is now 100 days since the Department gave their commitment to introduce Bexsero as part of the childhood vaccination programme and we have seen little in the way of progress. “Like everybody involved with this campaign I was delighted the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended this vaccine be provided on the NHS, but procurement negotiations need to be completed as soon as possible in order to prevent more families having to live through the tragedy of this disease. “A recent Lancet report stated the UK currently has one of the worst rates of child mortality in Western Europe, which shows the urgency that is needed. I will be asking the Health Minister to explain why these negotiations have not yet started.”