GSK, U.K. 'hopeful' they can strike a Bexsero price deal soon

It's been 7 months since price negotiations over meningitis B vaccine Bexsero began between Novartis ($NVS) and the U.K. government. And as far as new owner GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is concerned, that's long enough.

Just a few weeks after closing out the multibillion-dollar transaction that brought most of the Swiss drugmaker's vaccines to England, GSK says it's working quickly to bring the haggling to an end and get the vaccine covered for all babies.

As Glaxo spokeswoman Anna Padula told FierceVaccines in an emailed statement, the British drugmaker has made a proposal that's "significantly below" the vaccine's £75 ($112)-per-dose list price--and one it thinks "offers fair value" to the country's National Health Service.

"We are committed to reaching a rapid conclusion to negotiations," she said, noting that active discussions are ongoing.

Whether NHS officials also see GSK's price as fair is another story, and so far, they've been vocal about the fact they haven't been on the same page with Novartis. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently told the BBC that "the right price is around £5 a dose"--well below the sticker the company had been pushing for.

But unlike the Basel pharma giant--which Hunt back in November accused of holding the government "to ransom"--GSK has offered up a price drop Hunt called "substantial."

U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

"I'm much more hopeful that we will be able to strike a deal very soon," he told the BBC.

That's good news for the U.K.--which has already waited a year since the country's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation decided to add Bexsero to its vaccine program. It's also good news for GSK, which is counting on its vaccines unit to deliver now that its Novartis asset swap is on the books. After shipping off its drugs, the company will be looking to vaccines to generate 14% of sales going forward.

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Special Reports: Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2014 - Novartis/GSK | The top 5 vaccine makers by 2013 revenue - GlaxoSmithKline - Novartis

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