Bexsero was approved by the EC in 2013. However, the vaccine is not provided on the NHS despite the UK Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending it be made available to infants last March.
This is due to GSK’s failure to agree a price with the UK Department of Health (DoH) according to Christopher Head, CEO of Meningitis Research Foundation, who urged David Cameron’s Government to put short term cost concerns aside and consider societal benefits.
Head told us “the cost effective price range for this vaccine was published in October last year with an upper limit just over £20 - a substantial saving on the official NHS list price of £75. As both the manufacturer and the government are negotiating within this published cost effective range, we cannot see why agreement cannot be reached.”
“We realise there are many pressures on NHS budgets but this Government claims to want people to be fit for life throughout their life. Surely the answer is to protect future generations by vaccinating to prevent disease?” he continued, adding that Bexsero should also be available to adolescents.
Meningitis Research is one of a number of charities calling on the Government to reach a decision on Bexsero before the dissolution of parliament on March 26.
GSK spokeswoman Anna Padula confirmed that talks are ongoing, telling us the firm “has moved quickly following the recent acquisition of the vaccines business from Novartis, aiming to minimise further delays to infants getting access to the vaccine.”
“We are confident our proposal, which is significantly below the list price, offers fair value for the NHS. We will continue to work with UK Government to ensure they have the information they need to make a decision.”
Novartis will be tracking development with interest.
The Swiss drugmaker swapped Bexsero along with the rest of its vaccines business for GSK’s cancer portfolio last April in a deal that guaranteed it royalties and a payment of $450m (€410m) if the vaccine achieved an undisclosed sales target.
The agreement also saw Novartis’ Sandoz unit win the contract to supply GSK with proteins necessary for the manufacture of Bexsero through to at least 2018.
Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Italy, which was acquired by GSK, has the right to request a manufacturing technology transfer for the proteins.