Bexsero could be cost-effective for England, model says--but not at Novartis' price

What's the value of Novartis' meningitis B vaccine, Bexsero, to the U.K.? It's a question the company and the country's government have been debating for months now, unable to come to terms on a reasonable price for the jab. But medical journal The BMJ might have an answer.

Using mathematical models to predict the epidemiological and economic impact of Bexsero vaccination, researchers concluded that routine infant immunization is, indeed, the most effective short-term strategy for preventing meningococcal disease. And it could be cost-effective in England, they say, assuming a "low vaccine price range"--think between £3 and £22.

That's a far cry from the £300 ($504) list price for a four-dose course Bexsero boasted when the two sides officially began negotiations in August--a list price U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Novartis ($NVS) chief Joe Jimenez in April he couldn't justify.

Doing so would be "irresponsible and divert funding away from other, more cost-effective, health interventions and would therefore be to the detriment of the overall health of the population," he said at the time.

But the Swiss pharma's execs have their own opinions about the way the U.K. assesses vaccines. Last month, Novartis Vaccines' medical director, John Porter, said the country's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) needs to take another look at the way it determines what vaccines are worth.

The current system "significantly undervalues" the true public health benefits of vaccines and "underestimates the potentially devastating impact of the diseases they prevent," he said in an interview with PharmaTimes.

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