GSK finally seals U.K. Bexsero deal for £20 per dose, report says

U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

The deal's done: Less than a month after receiving Novartis' ($NVS) stall of vaccines products, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has ended the yearlong pricing standoff with the United Kingdom's National Health Service over meningitis B vaccine Bexsero.

For £20 per dose, Bexsero will be added to the country's national immunization schedule, enabling the annual protection of 800,000 babies at a cost of £16 million, the Daily Mail reports. Britain will become the first country in the world with a nationwide meningitis vaccine program, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, according to The Guardian.

In a statement, GSK said it is "delighted" to have reached the agreement, and that it's moved rapidly since the beginning of March to conclude the negotiations. Bexsero should be available there by the end of the year.

"We believe the agreement we have reached offers fair value for the NHS and allows a reasonable return for GSK to ensure that we can continue to invest in creating new treatments and vaccines," GSK said in a statement.

Last week, Hunt said he was "hopeful" for the deal, detailing improved negotiations and a "substantial" price drop GSK brought to the table. Hunt had been looking to spend about £5 per shot during the Novartis talks, a far cry from the £75-per-dose price the Swiss drugmaker was asking for.

The country treats around 1,870 cases of meningitis B each year, the Daily Mail reports, with the disease typically affecting children and leading to 120 deaths per year and 400 lifelong injuries. Meningitis charities praised the deal, saying it'll save lives and spare families.

Bexsero's history in the U.K. has been testy; it's been a year since the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation added it to the nation's vaccine program, sparking pricing negotiations with Novartis that weren't resolved until the Basel-based drugmaker's asset swap with GSK. During negotiations with Novartis, Hunt said the drugmaker was holding the country "to ransom."

Glaxo, though, had some incentive to wrap things up, as it needs Bexsero to deliver--and quickly. After shipping off its drugs to Novartis and picking up most of the former's vaccines, GSK is counting on vaccines to deliver 14% of its sales going forward.

- here's GSK's statement
- and the Guardian's take
- get more from the Daily Mail