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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

WA becomes first state to fund Sanofi’s infant immunisation

Health Industry Hub | March 6, 2024 |

Pharma News: Western Australia has become the first state in the country to commit funding for infant immunisation against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), following the formalisation of an agreement with Sanofi for the supply of Beyfortus (nirsevimab).

Catherine Hughes, founder and director of the Immunisation Foundation of Australia (IFA), said “The move by the WA Government to secure the RSV infant immunisation ahead of winter will safeguard some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” she stated.

RSV currently stands as the leading cause of hospitalisations for children under five across the nation, with an average of 12,000 hospitalisations among infants each year.

Regis Launay, General Manager, Vaccines, Sanofi Australia and New Zealand, expressed the company’s commitment to equitable access to RSV protection for all Australian infants.

“We are working constructively with federal, state and territory governments to increase funded access to benefit all Australian infants,” he said.

Beyfortus, approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) last November, serves as a one-off injection to prevent RSV-related lower respiratory tract disease in infants entering their first RSV season and children up to 24 months old vulnerable to severe RSV disease through their second RSV season. Clinical trials demonstrated 83% reduction in RSV-associated lower respiratory tract infection hospitalisations.

Despite its successful use in Europe and the US, the supply of Beyfortus has been unavailable in Australia until now.

“The rollout of Beyfortus in WA this year will provide learnings for other states and the Commonwealth on how to design and deliver a large-scale immunisation program to protect all infants against RSV,” noted Ms Hughes, emphasising the potential for a nationwide health priority.

Highlighting Western Australia’s history of leadership in vaccine-preventative measures, Ms Hughes pointed out that the state was the first to adopt maternal whooping cough immunisation and provide flu vaccinations to children.

Dr Ramya Raman, Chair of RACGP Western Australia, commended the government’s decisive action, deeming it a boost in the ongoing efforts to combat RSV in the community.

“This is the first such supply agreement anywhere in the southern hemisphere and a real boost in our efforts to combat RSV in the community,” Dr Raman commented.

Dr Iris Depaz, Country Medical Lead at Sanofi Australia and New Zealand, underscored the critical need for RSV protection

“Every winter, RSV wreaks havoc in Australian homes and hospitals, with children’s wards inundated with babies struggling to breathe due to lung complications caused by RSV. This is why access to RSV protection is needed,” she emphasised.

Immunisations against RSV may be available from April, according to Dr Raman, although an official confirmation is pending.

“This announcement has only just been made, and rolling out the program may take time,” she noted.

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