Drug companies Janssen and Novartis scooped prizes at the 2014 UK Prix Galien Awards for the first new drug for tuberculosis (TB) in 40 years and the first broadly protective meningitis B vaccine.
Janssen’s TB drug Sirturo (bedaqualine) won the Orphan Drug Award, and Novartis’s vaccine Bexsero earned the Innovative Product Award at a ceremony on 1 October 2014 at the House of Commons, London.
The Prix Galien was created in France in 1970 by pharmacist Roland Mehl to promote advances in pharmaceutical research. The prize has since been introduced across Europe and Canada, with the UK Prix Galien Awards held biennially. Winners of the Prix Galien in each country are eligible to enter the International Prix Galien award, and the winners are due to be announced at a ceremony in Monaco on 4 December 2014.
Sirturo inhibits mycobacterial ATP synthase, an enzyme the causative organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis requires for the generation of energy. This is a unique mechanism of action among TB drugs, says Janssen.
The drug was approved in the EU in March 2014 for use in combination regimens for adults with pulmonary multidrug-resistant TB, which carries a high mortality risk and is considered a serious global public health threat.
“Janssen is proud to have discovered an innovative medicine that meets such a significant urgent need for patients around the world,” said Peter Barnes, Janssen UK medical director.
Novartis’s Bexsero (meningococcal group B vaccine (rDNA, component, adsorbed)) is the “first and only” broadly protective meningitis B vaccine, developed by decoding the genetic make-up of the causative bacterium. Novartis says it is currently the only effective way to help prevent meningitis B.
The vaccine was licensed for use in the UK in January 2013 and, if it can be procured at a cost-effective price, it will be offered to all infants from two months of age as part of the national vaccination programme. Negotiations between Novartis and the Department of Health are under way.
The judging team for the UK Prix Galien Awards 2014 was led by Sir Michael Rawlins, former chairman of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.