Pharma giants GSK and Pfizer have announced an agreement to transfer the ownership of two meningitis vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline to Pfizer, for a total consideration of approximately £82 million.
The British firm will hand its meningitis vaccines Nimenrix and Mencevax to its US rival, as part of an agreement GSK entered into when it sealed its asset-swapping deal with Novartis, which completed in March.
As part of the Novartis deal, GSK acquired Novartis’ non-influenza vaccines business, including the meningitis vaccines Menveo and Bexsero. GSK also agreed to certain competition and merger control rules to earn sign-off for the $7.1 billion deal from the European Commission – including offloading its other meningitis vaccines to other pharma firms.
Pfizer has now moved to snap up Nimenrix and Mencevax, which are sold outside the US and achieved combined global sales of £34 million in 2014.
The agreement is subject to final European Commission approval, but it is expected to be completed before the end of the year. Pfizer says it does not expect the deal to have any significant impact on its 2015 financial performance, and adds it “will add two high-quality and complementary vaccines to its portfolio”.
Susan Silbermann, who is president of Pfizer Vaccines, says: “The addition of Nimenrix and Mencevax is an important milestone. Adding these two innovative and complementary vaccines to our current portfolio will allow us to more completely respond to meningococcal disease outbreaks as well as proactively address a critical public health need – the prevention of meningococcal disease across all ages.”
In the UK, the government has signed-off on a deal with GSK to supply meningitis B vaccines for an immunisation programme that will include all newborn babies in England and Scotland from September.
The vaccine will be given to babies at two months, four months and 12 months old. The scheme will be the first national and publicly-funded programme against the deadly infection in the world.
It had been delayed by cost disputes, but was put back on track after the government and GSK overcame a year-long stand-off with the Novartis over the price of Bexsero.
From August, another meningitis vaccine – Men ACWY – will be offered to 17 and 18-year-olds and students starting university this autumn.