The Saudi government requires all pilgrims to Mecca to have a meningitis vaccine. For years the only available vaccines were produced using porcine gelatin. In February 2010, Novartis produced the first halal vaccine for meningitis and wanted to be listed as a partner for the Ministry of Religious Affairs, who manage the hajj pilgrimage. The normal process to register and obtain a marketing license is 6-12 months, butthe bidding process for 2010 hajj will be closed on May 2010. Novartis wished to expedite the process at the Ministry of Health, the Indonesian FDA (BPOM), and the Indonesia Council of Ulema (MUI).
We engaged with KOLs that represent Islamic parties at the Parliament, leaders of MUI, large Islamic organizations such as NU and Muhammadiyah to seek their endorsement of our message, that Muslim people going on the holy pilgrimage must have halal vaccines when available. On the medical side, Novartis presented all evidence that their meningitis is porcine-free.
Menveo, Novartis’ vaccine, received halal certification from MUI within one month, the first halal certificate ever awarded for drugs and vaccine categories in Indonesia. Following the decision of MUI, Indonesian FDA also issued the registration and Novartis was appointed as the sole supplier of meningitis vaccines for the 2010 hajj pilgrimage.