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UK to use GSK’s Rotarix in rotavirus vaccination programme

Chosen ahead of Merck & Co’s RotaTeq

All children under four months in the UK will be eligible to receive GlaxoSmithKline's Rotarix from next year as part of a national rotavirus vaccination programme.

From September 2013, the vaccine will be offered along with other routine vaccines to protect against the virus, which causes around 140,000 cases of diarrhoea in children under five each year in the UK.

The use of Rotarix, which was chosen ahead of Merck & Co's RotaTeq vaccine, is “expected to halve the number of vomiting and diarrhoea cases caused by rotavirus and lead to 70 per cent fewer hospital stays”, said the Department of Health (DH).

A DH spokesperson told PMLiVE that Rotarix was chosen instead of RotaTeq because GSK's vaccine scored higher against a set of pre-agreed criteria, including quality of protection, price per dose, administration costs, shelf life and a reduced risk of wastage. 

Professor David Salisbury, UK director of immunisation, commented on the importance of the vaccine's uptake. “Many people think of diarrhoea as something that all children get and that you have to put up with. But there is a way to protect children from this. I'd encourage all parents of young children to accept this vaccine when the programme begins next year,” he said.

National rotavirus vaccination programmes are already commonplace in several other countries, including Australia, Austria and the US, with the World Health Organization's (WHO) Strategic Advisory Committee on Immunization (SAGE) recommending the inclusion of a rotavirus vaccination in all national immunisation programmes.

This recommendation has been backed by studies in the US demonstrating that the introduction of rotavirus vaccination led to a drop in the number of rotavirus-related hospital admissions for young children by more than two thirds.

This expected decrease in the number of hospital admissions, as well fewer GP visits and calls to NHS Direct, is set to save the UK NHS £20m a year as well – covering nearly the entire cost of the £25m per year rotavirus vaccine programme.

The NHS Commissioning Board will hold responsibility for the programme, while Public Health England will monitor its implementation and success. Both bodies were created as part of recent reforms to the NHS, and are expected to become fully operational in April, 2013 – five months ahead of the rotavirus programme launch.

12th November 2012

From: Sales, Healthcare

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