Deal agreed at last on GSK’s Bexsero in UK
After months of delay, GlaxoSmithKline has agreed a deal with the UK government that will allow its meningitis B (MenB) vaccine Bexsero to be added to the NHS’ routine childhood immunisation schedule.
The agreement on pricing has not been revealed officially but it has been reported that GSK has agreed to make Bexsero available for around £20 per dose, well below its list price of £75.
The end of months of deadlock has been welcomed by the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF), which said that when Bexsero is made available it will “save lives and spare countless families the trauma of seeing a loved one die or become seriously disabled because of MenB.”
The vaccine was approved in Europe at the beginning of 2013 and was backed for routine use in children by the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) a year ago. The JCVI recommendation is to immunise babies at two, four and 12 months.
GSK, which took over responsibility for Bexsero when it completed its acquisition of Novartis’ non-flu vaccine operations earlier this year, said: “the agreement we have reached offers fair value for the NHS and allows a reasonable return.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised that the vaccine would be made available on the NHS this year and said the UK “will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide MenB vaccination programme.”
The turning point in negotiations came when GSK took over responsibility for the vaccine, he suggested, which came after a “stand-off” with Novartis for the best part of a year.
Meanwhile, Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison indicated that the vaccine should be available in Scotland in September, while counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland also suggested that plans were in place to add Bexsero to routine immunisation programmes.
Whilst hailing the decision, the MRF remains concerned about the level of access to the vaccine, and specifically that “there is no recommendation for teenagers, the second highest ‘at risk’ group, to be routinely vaccinated.”
“Vaccinating this age group has the potential to protect the wider population because they are key to transmission and spread,” said MRF chief executive Chris Head.
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