One more dose: Sanofi pushes importance of forgotten second dose of meningitis vaccine

Sanofi Pasteur's latest meningococcal meningitis vaccine plea targets parents to make sure their older teens get a second booster shot at age 16. (Sanofi)

It takes two. Two vaccinations, that is, for effective meningitis prevention, and that’s the theme of a Sanofi Pasteur push to parents in a new TV campaign.

The “Casual to Casualty” campaign encourages parents to make sure their older teens get a second MCV4 dose needed to complete the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. The CDC recommends adolescents get the first dose at age 11 or 12, plus a second booster dose at age 16. However, some studies have found that only about one-third of 17-year-olds have received a second dose, even though more than 75% received the first one.

Sanofi’s national cable TV campaign begun in May shows young people engaging in everyday age-typical behaviors—such as sharing food, drinks and even lipstick—that can spread meningococcal meningitis through saliva. The voiceover notes to parents that the disease is rare but goes on to say that “It can take your teen’s life in just 24 hours. That’s why even if they have the first dose of the MCV4 series at 11 or 12 years, they need the second dose at 16 to help strengthen protection.”

The ad will run through September, timed with back-to-school prep.

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“Sanofi Pasteur’s credo is no one should suffer or die from a vaccine-preventable disease and ‘Casual to Casualty’ calls attention to the need for the recommended second dose of MCV4 for older adolescents during the back-to-school timeframe,” a Sanofi spokeswoman said via email.

The campaign also includes a website with additional information, patient and parent stories and a discussion guide to take to doctors. The stories include those of young survivors of meningococcal meningitis, as well as some from parents of children who didn’t survive.

Sanofi is the maker of meningococcal quadrivalent vaccine Menactra, which competes with GlaxoSmithKline’s Menveo in the U.S. Both protect against the A, C, W and Y strains of the disease, while rivals Bexsero from GSK and Trumenba from Pfizer cover a fifth strain, meningitis B.

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GSK is expected to have a five-in-one strain MenABCWY vaccine, currently in phase 2, ready for debut in 2020, analysts say. Pfizer is also developing a MenABCWY vaccine.

Sanofi’s overall meningitis and pneumonia vaccines sales slipped this year in the first half to €205 million, down 22%, a gap the French drugmaker attributed to a robust 2017 first half that saw CDC recommendations as well as higher sales in Australia after a meningitis outbreak. Total sales from Menactra in 2017 were €600 million, up 4.6% from the previous year, with U.S. sales alone accounting for €484 million of that haul.