With MenB vaccine Bexsero in hand, GSK aims for a price deal in England

Novartis ($NVS) may have spent 7 months negotiating fruitlessly with the U.K. government over the price of meningitis B vaccine Bexsero, but now that the product is in GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) hands, its new owner intends to do no such thing.

Just a few weeks after officially folding most of the Swiss pharma's vaccines into its own lineup, GSK says it's working quickly to bring the haggling to an end and get the vaccine covered for all babies.

As GSK spokeswoman Anna Padula told FiercePharma 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.

But the key will be whether NHS officials also see GSK's price as fair, and throughout the negotiation process, they haven't been shy about sharing their feelings on the topic. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently told the BBC that "the right price is around £5 a dose"--well below the sticker Novartis had been trying 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 bidding farewell to its oncology drugs, the company will be looking to vaccines to deliver 14% of sales going forward.

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