UNITED KINGDOM – GSK, the UK pharmaceutical giant, is optimistic about the market prospects of its Respiratory syncytial  Virus (RSV) vaccine, Arexvy, specifically targeting older adults.

The company has already shipped its first doses to US distribution centers and commenced its disease awareness campaign, intending to leverage its existing international field force.

The multi-billion-dollar race in RSV vaccine launch has been a major topic of discussion during GSK’s second-quarter earnings call.

With FDA approval secured for Arexvy in May, and Pfizer’s RSV vaccine Abrysvo gaining FDA support shortly after, the competition is fierce.

GSK is now gearing up for a third-quarter launch in Europe following the European Commission’s approval of Arexvy in June 2023.

Initially, GSK had plans to develop a vaccine for both infants and older adults. However, a safety concern in its maternal vaccine trial led the company to focus solely on the older adult population.

GSK’s CEO, Emma Walmsley, emphasized the significant impact of RSV infection on hospitalization among older adults, making it a larger market for any company.

GSK’s optimism stems from Arexvy’s impressive 94.6% efficacy in adults aged 60 and older with underlying medical conditions, as well as its positive efficacy profile at re-vaccination after 12 months.

The adult market, particularly adults over 65, appears to be the more significant prize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are up to 120,000 hospitalizations and up to 10,000 deaths among older adults with RSV in the US each year.

In contrast, hospitalizations for children under 5 are around 58,000 annually, with 100 to 300 deaths.

Pfizer’s Abrysvo approval was based on Phase III interim analysis data showing 66.7% vaccine efficacy, making a scientific battle with Pfizer inevitable, according to GSK’s chief commercial officer, Luke Miels.

Both companies aim to provide better vaccines by informing physicians and pharmacists to benefit patients.

While GSK has a strong focus on vaccines and infectious diseases, Pfizer’s experience with pneumonia shots and its successful COVID vaccine will be valuable if it gets approval for its RSV shot.

However, the RSV vaccine market demands a different approach to raise awareness and education compared to the COVID vaccine market.

Moderna, another major COVID vaccine player, is also looking to enter the RSV vaccine market but is currently behind Pfizer and GSK in development.

On the other hand, AstraZeneca and Sanofi are developing long-acting antibody for infants to protect against RSV disease with a single dose.

GSK is betting big on Arexvy’s success in the RSV vaccine market, particularly among older adults, with Pfizer as its major competitor.

Other players like Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Sanofi are also vying to make their mark in this crucial medical arena.

The race for an effective RSV vaccine is not only scientifically significant but has the potential to improve public health outcomes significantly.

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