The UK Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that meningitis B vaccine Bexsero be made available in March 2014, but despite this an agreement between UK’s Department of Health (DOH) and vaccine-maker GlaxoSmithKline was only reached earlier this week.
The delay was due to pricing negotiations between the DOH and Novartis which, up until last month, owned Bexsero.
An exchange of assets deal between the Swiss manufacturer and GSK saw GSK add the vaccine to its portfolio and in a statement the firm said it was “delighted to have reached an agreement” with the DOH.
"We have moved rapidly to conclude negotiations since we acquired the vaccine from Novartis at the beginning of March," the firm said.
Christopher Head, CEO of Meningitis Research Foundation told this publication last week the price would sit somewhere between just over £20 for the vaccine – the upper limit of the cost effective price range – and £75, the list price according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
But when contacted by Biopharma-Reporter, GSK spokesperson Catherine Hartley said financial details of the deal remained confidential.
However, she added: “We believe the agreement we have reached offers fair value for the NHS and allows a reasonable return for GSK to ensure that we can continue to invest in creating new treatments and vaccines.”
With Bexsero forming part of the national immunisation programme, we were told GSK “expects mass vaccination to begin in the UK this year, but the timing will be determined by the Government.”
The vaccine is manufactured by GSK from the recently acquired facility in Italy. Novartis’ Sandoz unit is contracted to supply GSK with the proteins necessary to manufacture Bexsero through to at least 2018, under terms of the asset exchange.
Furthermore, if sales of the vaccine reach an undisclosed target, GSK would have to pay the Swiss firm royalties and a payment of $450m (€410m), but when asked, Hartley refused to comment as to whether this was factored in to the pricing negotiations.