Chris Smyth reports 25th November 2014: Dispute with drug company delays meningitis jab In case NHSreality is new to you, we cannot afford a full health service….. I am in the process of buying my own Shingles Jab, as I am outside the funded scheme…. But for me, it’s worth it to know I have reduced the risk of this illness to a minimum..
Ministers have been accused of refusing to discuss the introduction of a life-saving vaccine as negotiations over the promised injection for meningitis B descend into acrimony.
The drug company that makes the vaccine says Whitehall is not returning its calls and that there has been no “meaningful negotiation” over the price of the jab, despite a pledge eight months ago that Britain would be the first to introduce it.
The accusation has angered officials, who said they would not be “held to ransom” by a company that wanted to use the spectre of dead children to extract money from the NHS.
David Cameron has taken a personal interest in the Bexsero vaccine, which protects against the strain responsible for more than half the 3,200 annual cases of meningitis. The main victims are children and young people. About one in ten die, with many others suffering deafness and brain damage.
Campaigners had assumed the delay was caused by wrangling over the price after government advisers doubted whether it would be cost-effective to inject every baby at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds. However, Andrin Oswald, head of vaccines at Novartis, which makes Bexsero, said that officials had refused to discuss a price, and had not returned his calls for two months.
“We’re just waiting and waiting. I find it odd, given the sense of urgency everyone agrees there should be when this disease continues to kill and maim children,” he said. “To date I haven’t had meaningful discussions with government officials over . . . the prices.”
He added that he had proposed a figure lower than the £75 list price. Some regions of Italy, Germany and Canada have started a vaccination programme and Dr Oswald said that a million doses were ready for Britain.