GSK Pulls Ahead of Pfizer in RSV Vaccine Market as Arexvy Nears Blockbuster Status

GSK HQ_iStock, Wirestock

Pictured: GSK building in Poznan, Poland/iStock, Wirestock

GSK CEO Emma Walmsley on Thursday touted the smooth launch of its respiratory syncytial virus vaccine Arexvy and its strong potential for growth in the coming years. In an interview with Reuters, Walmsley said the British biopharma is “delighted” with the progress it has made in the RSV vaccine race with Pfizer.

“We are delighted with the start of our RSV vaccine,” Walmsley said, adding that the company expects Arexvy “will be more than £1 billion in its first year, (it) has lots of headroom for growth.”

GSK is positioning Arexvy to be its next blockbuster asset. The U.S. launch of the vaccine has so far reached three million of the more than 80 million adults over 60 at risk from RSV, according to Walmsley.

Arexvy became the first FDA-approved RSV shot in May 2023 and is authorized for use in older adults aged 60 years and older. In its third-quarter earnings report, GSK announced that Arexvy captured two-thirds of retail vaccinations in the country and made $859 million in its first full commercial quarter, contributing heavily to the company’s 10% growth in total sales.  

At the time, the British biopharma also said that only 1.4 million of the potential 83 million eligible adults had received an RSV shot, underscoring the growth potential of Arexvy.

GSK is also planning to push Arexvy to younger seniors, further broadening the market of its RSV shot. In October 2023, GSK unveiled early data from a Phase III study, showing that Arexvy was just as safe and effective in adults aged 50 to 59 years than in its currently approved patient population. Arexvy likewise provided strong protections in younger seniors that were at higher risk of RSV disease because of certain medical conditions.

Also in the RSV race is Pfizer, which won the FDA’s approval for its vaccine Abrysvo just a month behind GSK in June 2023. Its sales, however, have fallen far behind. In the third quarter of 2023, Abrysvo only made $375 million, less than half of Arexvy’s figures.

On Tuesday, Pfizer CFO David Denton said in a conference that the company is “disappointed” in the performance of Abrysvo compared with GSK’s Arexvy, Reuters reported.

Despite beating Wall Street’s expectations, Denton told investors that “if you look at our market share, I don’t think we performed as well as we thought or could, or we think we will going forward.”

Sanofi and partner AstraZeneca also have an RSV product on the market. Approved in July 2023, Beyfortus (nirsevimab) is a single-dose monoclonal antibody for the preventative treatment of RSV in infants and children. Since hitting the market, Beyfortus made nearly $150 million, according Sanofi’s third-quarter financial report.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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