Sanofi Pasteur nabs Menactra expansion in Canada

Health Canada gave the nod to Sanofi Pasteur Canada to expand the indication for Menactra to infants 9 months of age.

Menactra vaccine protects against meningococcal disease, including meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal sepsis. The Health Canada approval now makes the jab available to those ages 9 months to 55 years.

The bacterium Neisseria meningitidis causes invasive meningococcal disease, an acute and serious illness that can lead to death within 24 to 48 hours after symptoms appear. Of those who survive the ailment, 11% to 19% may suffer from permanent disabilities ranging from hearing loss to neurological damage to paralysis. The disease usually hits children younger than age 5 and peaks again in adolescence.

"Diagnosis of meningitis can be very difficult, as it mimics the symptoms of flu," Dr. Ron Gold, a medical adviser for the Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada, said in a statement. "Approval for use of Menactra vaccine as early as 9 months of age expands our ability to prevent this potentially deadly disease in infants."

In the first half of 2012, Menactra hit $217 million in sales, making it the 15th most selling vaccine at the time.

Back in August, a judge ruled that a lawsuit alleging that Sanofi Pasteur illegally monopolized the market for meningococcal vaccines in the U.S. could move forward. Several doctors said the company used its market authority to group price contracts, forcing purchasers to buy 90% or more of childhood vaccines to avoid potential cost penalties on Menactra. So, in theory, a buyer could end up paying 15% to 35% more for all Sanofi vaccines if they elect not to buy Menactra.

- read the release

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