In a significant stride towards public health, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has recently entered into an exclusive agreement with Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products, Ltd. (Zhifei), China's leading vaccine company, to jointly promote GSK's Shingrix shingles vaccine in China for the next three years, with the possibility of extension. This strategic collaboration is poised to revolutionize vaccine accessibility in China, leveraging the combined expertise and resources of both companies.
Beginning January 1, 2024, Zhifei will exclusively import and distribute Shingrix in China, utilizing its extensive network of over 30,000 immunization stations. GSK, the license holder, will play a crucial role in co-promotion efforts, educating healthcare professionals in community health centers and hospitals about the importance of shingles immunization.
New information released by GSK in August 2023 showed that Shingrix was 100% effective at preventing shingles in Chinese people aged 50 and up, as shown by the ZOSTER-076 phase IV trial. This breakthrough discovery underscores the vaccine's potential to make a substantial impact on public health.
Financially, Zhifei is set to purchase Shingrix volumes amounting to $3.42 billion from GSK within the initial three years of this collaboration. This partnership is projected to accelerate GSK's global Shingrix revenue goal, aiming to reach $5.48 billion by 2026.
Moreover, this collaboration extends beyond Shingrix. Zhifei has granted GSK the first right of refusal for the co-development and commercialization of a Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine for older adults in China. This opens up the possibility of further collaboration on GSK's innovative RSV vaccine, Arexvy, following its approval in China.
Shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), is a painful condition that primarily affects individuals over 50 years old. With an aging population in China, the prevalence of shingles is a growing concern. Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a common complication of shingles, can lead to prolonged suffering for affected individuals.
The approval of Shingrix by China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) in May 2019 marked a crucial milestone in preventing shingles among those aged 50 and above. Despite the potential benefits, only a small fraction (1.2%) of the Chinese population in this age group has been vaccinated as of June 2023.
Shingrix is a non-live, recombinant subunit vaccine that uses cutting-edge technology to fight against the loss of immunization responses that come with getting older. This makes it an invaluable tool in preventing shingles among individuals aged 50 and older.
This collaboration between GSK and Zhifei represents a pivotal moment in public health, offering a beacon of hope for millions of individuals at risk of shingles in China. By harnessing their collective strengths, the partnership is set to make a transformative impact on vaccine accessibility and the overall well-being of the Chinese population.