GSK announced today that it has submitted a regulatory application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for its malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S.
The submission will follow the Article 58 procedure, which allows the EMA to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of a candidate vaccine, or medicine, manufactured in a European Union (EU) member state, for a disease recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) as of major public health interest, but intended exclusively for use outside the EU. This assessment is done by the EMA in collaboration with the WHO, and requires products to meet the same standards as vaccines or medicines intended for use in the EU. Eligibility for the application was granted by the CHMP after agreement from WHO that RTS,S met criteria for such an evaluation.
RTS,S is intended exclusively for use against the Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasite, which is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Around 90 per cent of estimated deaths from malaria occur in SSA, and 77 per cent of these are in children under the age of 5.
The EMA submission is the first step in the regulatory process toward making the RTS,S vaccine candidate available as an addition to existing tools currently recommended for malaria prevention. An effective vaccine for use alongside other measures such as bednets and anti-malarial medicines would represent a advance in malaria control. To-date there is no licensed vaccine available for the prevention of malaria.
If a positive opinion from the EMA is granted, the WHO has indicated a policy recommendation may be possible by end of 2015. A policy recommendation is a formal review process by WHO designed to assist in the development of optimal immunisation schedules for diseases that have a global public health impact, such as malaria.[i]
A positive opinion from the EMA would also be the basis for marketing authorisation applications to National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) in SSA countries. A ?review by a European medicines agency is required by the majority of African countries prior to registration of a medicinal product manufactured in Europe. If positive, these regulatory decisions would help pave the way toward the large-scale implementation of the vaccine through African national immunisation programmes.
Dr Sophie Biernaux, Head of the Malaria Vaccine Franchise, GSK said: ?This is a key moment in GSK?s 30-year journey to develop RTS,S and brings us a step closer to making available the world?s first vaccine that can help protect children in Africa from malaria.?
Data from the phase III vaccine trial programme conducted at 13 African research centres in eight African countries (Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania) including over 16,000 infants and young children have also been included to support the filing.