GSK’s relatively new vaccine for meningococcal B is in low supply across the country due to its unexpected popularity worldwide
Bexsero is the only vaccine for meningococcal B currently registered for use in Australia and is relatively new, but overseas governments are cottoning on to the product, says GSK.
“Demand is increasing very rapidly, so we’re seeing intermittent shortages as we try to meet supply,” a GSK spokesperson told AJP.
While the vaccine for meningococcal C, GSK’s Menitorix, is funded through the National Immunisation Program, Bexsero is not – a move the company says is contributing to the shortage.
“We’ve applied three times [for Bexsero] to be included on the National Immunisation Program,” says the spokesperson.
“Each time it’s been deemed not cost effective, whereas other countries have included it in their national health programs.
“This is actually part of the reason behind the shortage – as other countries are implementing their health program, we’re prioritising supply in those countries,” they told AJP.
Pharmacist manager Ian Fredericks, of Malouf Pharmacies in Sydney, confirmed to AJP that his two wholesalers are both advising their Australian distributor has no stock of Bexsero with no ETA in sight.
Other pharmacies across Adelaide have also notified The Advertiser saying they have none of the vaccine in stock or just a handful left.
TGA has had the vaccine listed under ‘anticipated shortage’ until 23 August, although worldwide demand for the drug seems bigger than initially expected.
GSK assures pharmacists that it is working on the supply issue with resolution anticipated by the end of the year.
“We’re expecting to bring more stock in September, but there may be supply issues on-and-off until the end of the year.”
While the meningococcal C vaccine has been government-funded in Australia since 2003, parents who want to vaccinate their children for meningococcal B are expected to pay about $150 per dose on the private market.