- GSK said Wednesday that its new Arexvy vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus pulled in 709 million pounds, or about $860 million, in its first few months on the market
- The sales figures outpaced what was already a strong launch from rival Pfizer, which a day earlier announced third quarter revenue of $375 million for its Abrysvo vaccine for RSV. Pfizer’s option is cleared both for older adults and for pregnant women after winning an expanded Food and Drug Administration approval in August.
- GSK was the first to win approval for an RSV vaccine and now has clearance in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Japan. It won FDA approval in May and by mid-August GSK announced that Arexvy was available in all major U.S. retail pharmacies
Though RSV is responsible for thousands of deaths and hospitalizations each year among young children and seniors, it’s defied scientists’ attempts to successfully develop a vaccine until now. The virus also isn’t nearly as well known as the flu or COVID-19.
But the strong starts for both GSK and Pfizer suggest older adults in particular are willing to add to their annual flu shots each fall in an effort to stay healthy. About half of Arexvy doses were given to people who got flu vaccines at the same time, according to a GSK presentation prepared for analysts and investors.
The potential market is huge, with an estimated 400 million people aged 60 or older around the world who could be eligible to get an RSV shot. And GSK appears to have the early edge, claiming that it has more than 60% of the U.S. retail market share.
The successful launch helped prompt GSK to raise its guidance for the full year. The British drugmaker now expects revenue to increase between 12% and 13%, up from an earlier estimate of 8% to 10%. GSK also anticipates adjusted earnings per share to climb by as much as 20%, up from the previous guidance of 14% to 17%.
Sales of Arexvy will likely track demand for the high-dose flu vaccines given to older adults, GSK said. The company forecasts full-year revenue from the product to reach between 900 million to 1 billion pounds.
GSK’s success with Arexvy adds to a vaccine business that already has a multi-billion dollar blockbuster in the shingles vaccine Shingrix. Sales rose 15% year over year to 835 million pounds in the third quarter.
Pfizer didn’t break down sales of its RSV vaccine by use, so it’s unclear how much of the revenue came from older adults and how much from pregnant women. Pfizer officials believe the clearance for maternal use — designed to protect babies in their first few months of life — will prove to be an advantage in the market, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told investors this week.
GSK has its own card to play in data reported earlier this month that showed Arexvy was equally effective in adults aged 50 to 59 years old, younger than the vaccine’s current indication for adults 60 and over. The pharma plans to file an application this quarter for expanded FDA approval.