GSK’s newly FDA-approved Shingrix is an innovative new recombinant vaccine against the herpes zoster virus, the infectious agent responsible for shingles.

Shingles is a common viral infection that is associated with significant skin irritation and pain.

It is caused by the same virus as chickenpox, and is a consequence of the reactivation of this latent virus, which stays in the body throughout the patients’ lifetime.

It can re-emerge in people over the age of 50, and while if you’ve previously contracted chickenpox you can’t contract shingles from another patient, if you haven’t been exposed previously you are liable to contract chickenpox.

Huge patient pool

It is estimated that a third of Americans will suffer from shingles during their lifetime, and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends vaccinations for anyone over the age of 60.

There is only one vaccine on the market – Zostavax – and this only gained approval in 2005.

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However, Shingrix displayed superiority over Zostavax in clinical trials, with a 90% efficacy rate, compared to 50% for the older drug.

As such, despite higher rates of side effects with Shingrix, the CDC endorsed its use over Zostavax.

It recommends Shingrix as the primary vaccine for shingles and has suggested lowering the age of vaccination by 10 years, to include those over 50.

Promising forecasts

This has generated much excitement and hope for the commercial success of Shingrix.

It is anticipated to be GSKs’ next blockbuster drug, with sales in 2023 expected to reach $588m in the US, and $1.6 billion worldwide.

With approval expected in Europe, Australia and Japan in the near future, Shingrix is expected to become the number one vaccine for shingles, and a major asset in GSKs’ portfolio.