GlaxoSmithKline reaches deal to add meningitis B vaccine Bexsero to UK childhood vaccination programme

GlaxoSmithKline announced Sunday that it reached an agreement with the UK Department of Health that will allow infants in the UK to receive its meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) vaccine Bexsero through the NHS immunisation schedule. While pricing details were not disclosed, the vaccine is believed to be about 20 pounds ($30) per dose, which would make it less than a third of the original list cost of 75 pounds ($112) per dose. The company stated that "the agreement we have reached offers fair value for the NHS and allows a reasonable return for GlaxoSmithKline."

The agreement follows recommendations issued in March 2014 by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation calling for Bexsero to be introduced into the vaccination programme for infants from two months of age. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt noted "we will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide MenB vaccination programme," adding that Bexsero can be introduced on the NHS "this year." Specifically, infants will be vaccinated at two months and receive a follow-up injection at 4 months, with an additional dose administered at 12 months.

Earlier this month, Hunt indicated that negations with GlaxoSmithKline over the cost of Bexsero had "moved substantially" forward from the "deadlock" that characterised prior talks with Novartis, which used to own the product. The UK drugmaker recently completed a deal to acquire Novartis' vaccines business, excluding its influenza vaccines, as part of a three-way asset swap announced last year. "We had a stand-off really for the best part of a year with [Novartis], but since GlaxoSmithKline have come on board they have reduced the price," remarked Hunt, who had recently suggested that "the right price" for Bexsero would be around 5 pounds ($7) a dose.

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