Recently in pharma news, it was announced that the FDA has approved a new shingles vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline, designed to immunize those aged 50 or older against the shingles virus. The new vaccine, Shingrix, is said to be more effective than the vaccine that has been used in recent years, according to an FDA panel expert. This was in reference to Zostavax, a vaccine manufactured by Merck that has dominated the market since its approval by the FDA more than a decade ago.
Last year Merck reportedly took in revenues of $685 million for its Zostavax vaccine against shingles, which is caused by latent varicella infection. With the FDA’s approval of Shingrix, many believe the two pharmaceutical companies will be highly competitive in the future, as Shingrix is expected by market watchers to reach blockbuster status in the next five years.
The UK-based pharmaceutical giant announced that Shingrix is given in two intramuscular doses, and according to Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer of GSK Vaccines, Dr. Thomas Breuer, has proven effective in more than 90% of people given the vaccine across all age groups. The company developed Shingrix for the purpose of overcoming the decline in immunity as we age, and the risk of developing shingles increases as older adults continue to age due to an immune system that continues to weaken.
Approximately one-third of older adults will get shingles in their lifetime, without being vaccinated against the condition, which is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same responsible for chicken pox. Shingles is known to be a highly painful condition with a skin rash, and can be contagious during the blister phase.
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