On 9th November the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Heplisav-B, making it the first new hepatitis B vaccine to be approved in the US in over 25 years.
Unlike existing vaccines which require three doses over the course of six months, Heplisav-B requires only two doses within one month. This reduced requirement is expected to increase the proportion of people who complete their vaccine series - currently almost half of those who receive an initial dose do not go on to receive their third injection.
In a clinlical trial Heplisav-B was found to offer significantly greater protection than one of the current vaccines Engerix-B (95% vs 81%, respectively). People with diabetes are more susceptible to hepatitis B, and Heplisav-B also worked better than Engerix-B in diabetic patients (90% vs 65%, respectively).
Heplisav-B was approved for adults aged 18 and over and is expected to become available in the US in the first quarter of 2018.