Shingrix a ‘standout’ in GSK’s vaccine strong Q2

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has described its shingles vaccine Shingrix as a driving force in its Q2 sales results. The firm is expanding capacity to keep up with demand.

For the second quarter 2019, group sales stood at £7.8 billion ($9.8 billion), up 7% year-on-year. GSK saw a 1% decline to £4.3 billion in its pharmaceuticals division but was boosted by strong performances in vaccines and consumer.

Management attributed vaccine sales of £1.6 billion – up 23% on the same period last year – to the commercial success of Shingrix, a non-live, recombinant subunit vaccine for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster).

GSK’s headquarters in Brentford, UK. Image c/o GSK/Flickr

The vaccine, approved in the US in 2017, pulled in £386 million for the Big Pharma firm and was described by GSK CFO Iain Mackay as “a standout” during a conference call discussing results.

“Q2 Shingrix revenue of £386 million was driven by continued strong uptake in the US as well as good signs of uptake in Germany and Canada,” he said. He noted the quarter saw approval for Shingrix in China and added that within the next two to three years the estimated dose range for the vaccine will be in the high teens of millions.

Capacity concerns

For such a large patient population, GSK has had to focus on its commercial production capacity.

In November 2018, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its website to state there were delays and shortages of the herpes zoster vaccine due to high levels of demand.

To alleviate the supply issues, GSK has undertaken efforts to grow its capacity and in January received approval for an additional, existing facility in France to produce the vaccine. And in April, the firm announced plans to invest $100 million into its site in Hamilton, Montana to support the product.

“We continue to be successful in accelerating actions designed to increase the supply capacity and therefore increasingly confident of achieving the upper end of the ratings we gave previously at the front-end of the timeline,” Mackay told stakeholders.

CEO Emma Walmsley added: “We are really pleased with the ongoing strong demand for Shingrix and we’re equally pleased with the progress that Roger’s [Roger Connor, GSK’s president of Global Vaccines] team are making in terms of our capacity expansion,” before hinting at further expansions.

“There is a, let’s just say, a possibility of further progress beyond that, but we will update you on that at Q3.”