England to provide GSK MenW vaccine to 3 million teens

John Watson, England's deputy chief medical officer

England has decided to offer meningitis W vaccination to three million teens after a steep rise in cases--and local vaccine giant GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) will be reaping the benefits.

On Friday, John Watson, England's deputy chief medical officer, said England had accepted a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to immunize all teens between the ages of 14 and 18 against the strain, The Telegraph reports. The decision follows a sharp uptick in the number of recorded cases of the deadly disease, which went from 22 in 2009 to 117 last year.

According to health officials, the details of the vaccination program have not yet been worked out, but teenagers within the specified age range will receive a combo vaccine to protect against meningitis A, C, W and Y, the news service reports. And that vaccine will be one of GlaxoSmithKline's, a spokeswoman from Public Health England told FierceVaccines.

"We are working with NHS England, Public Health England and the vaccine manufacturer to develop a plan to tackle the rising number of MenW cases," Watson said, as quoted by The Telegraph.

MenW is not the only strain the JCVI has considered recently. Last May, it recommended the government include meningitis B-blocker Bexsero--then the star of Novartis' ($NVS) vaccine lineup--on its national vaccination schedule for babies.

But despite the recommendation--and several months of haggling with Novartis--the vaccine still isn't available, thanks to a pricing dispute between the two sides. Now, following the close of Novartis' $7.1 billion vaccines sale to GlaxoSmithKline, the negotiating will be up to the British company.

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