GSK says 47% drop in Shingrix sales is down to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic and rapid rollout of COVID vaccines in the US has led to a decline in sales of shingles vaccine, Shingrix.

For the quarter, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) reported its non-live, recombinant subunit vaccine for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster), Shingrix sales have declined by 47%, which the firm predicted during its last quarterly earnings call.

“The prioritization of the public health systems to focus on pandemic vaccination deployment has led to significant disruption in Shingrix prescriptions,” Luke Miels, president of Global Therapeutics told shareholders during GSK’s Q1 financial earnings call this week.

Image/iStock: fotolgahan

He added: “This has been most in evidence in the US where the CDC has recommended a 14-day window either side of receiving COVID vaccines effectively creating a two-month no go period for administration of other vaccines.”

According to the biopharma giant it is experiencing similar disruption in Germany, China, and other key markets.

Second half recovery

Despite nearly a 50% decline in sales, GSK remains positive that the demand for Shingrix will bounce-back as it has “a very large opportunity ahead of it.”The pace of COVID-19 immunizations has been rapid, particularly for individuals in the target age group for Shingrix.

“By the end of the second quarter, we expect the majority of the 50 plus age group will have been fully vaccinated. Further with two-thirds of those 65 years and older in the US fully vaccinated for COVID,” said Miels.

GSK says the rapid rollout underpins its confidence in Shingrix recovering during the second half of the year and to prepare for this, the company has been practising strategies to advance its recovery.

One example the firm provided to stakeholders is that it has partnered with different US retailers to encourage eligible adults to visit and retain them to the pharmacies two weeks after receiving their final COVID-19 vaccine.

The firm spoke of encouraging market research that suggests eligible adults are willing to return for their Shingrix vaccine within one to three months and to do this, GSK is working to ensure it has a strong supply position to meet the expected increased demand.

“We continue to believe the disruption to Shingrix is a timing issue,” said Miels. “With strong underlying demand, we continue to expect Shingrix growth to be weighted to half two and assuming we progressed towards more normal operating conditions in our key markets. We expect a significant step up in Shingrix sales in 2022.”

Prior to the pandemic Shingrix had showcased continuous quarterly growth since it launched in 2017, with the demand for the vaccine outstripping supply in February 2020 and GSK stating it saw limited opportunity for further growth until its new facility becomes fully operational in 2024.

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