Novartis' meningococcal vaccine Bexsero and Janssen’s tuberculosis drug Sirturo have taken the top prizes at this year’s UK Prix Galien Awards.

At a ceremony in the House of Commons, the Innovative Product Award was won by Bexsero, which was approved in the European Union and is indicated to help protect all age groups against meningococcal serogroup B disease, including infants who are the most vulnerable. Chairman of the judging panel and ex-chair of NICE, Sir Michael Rawlins, noted that Bexsero was the unanimous winner, saying it is “fantastic that the pioneering research at Novartis has led to the use of genomic techniques in creating a broadly protective vaccine”.

Two further drugs were ‘highly commended’ by the judging panel - Dificlir (fidaxomicin), Astellas’ drug for Clostridium difficile and Genzyme’s multiple sclerosis therapy Lemtrada (alemtuzumab).

Janssen walked away with the 2014 Orphan Drug Award for Sirturo (bedaquiline) for pulmonary multi_drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR_TB). Sir Michael noted that two million people will develop MDR_TB between 2011 and 2015 and “treatment is complex, requiring years of medication and extensive medical support – with less than 50% of patients having a successful outcome”.

It is against this background, he added, that Sirturo “emerged as a clear winner [and] the panel was impressed with its novel mechanism of action”. Its development “represents the first step forward we have seen in the treatment of TB for more than 40 years”, he added.

Three further orphan drugs were highly commended - Bayer’s pulmonary hypertension treatment Adempas (riociguat), InterMune’s Esbriet for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and Vertex’ Kalydeco (ivacaftor) for cystic fibrosis.