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Great success for British pharma giant GSK in China

GSK, a British pharmaceutical conglomerate, has achieved a significant milestone in China. The company has inked a deal with Zhifei, China’s largest vaccine manufacturer by revenue, with the goal of doubling global sales of its shingles vaccine by 2026.

This UK-based pharmaceutical giant has disclosed that Zhifei will purchase £2.5 billion worth of GSK’s top-selling vaccine, Shingrix, designed for older adults, over a three-year period. The agreement also includes an option for Zhifei to distribute GSK’s respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine in China if it obtains regulatory approval, which it has already received in the US, EU, and UK.

Luke Miels, GSK’s Chief Commercial Officer, highlighted that this partnership significantly expands the number of Chinese adults who can benefit from Shingrix. By 2030, China is projected to have approximately 570 million adults over the age of 50, but as of June 2023, only around 1.2 percent have received shingles vaccinations. Miels noted that the partnership aligns with GSK’s focus on products with substantial and enduring differentiation.

This groundbreaking agreement marks GSK’s first of its kind in China and will expand vaccine access from around 9,000 vaccination sites to 30,000. Zhifei already collaborates with US-based Merck (known as MSD outside the US) to sell billions of dollars worth of vaccines in China.

Major pharmaceutical companies are keen to expand rapidly in China, targeting an aging population grappling with a growing burden of chronic illnesses.

GSK’s ambitious objective is to double Shingrix sales to over £4 billion annually by 2026. This vaccine is designed to prevent shingles, a painful condition caused by the same virus that triggers chickenpox. The likelihood of developing shingles increases with age as individuals’ immune systems weaken.

In a recent trial involving Chinese adults over the age of 50, the vaccine exhibited a 100 percent efficacy rate, with none of the participants who received the vaccine developing the condition.


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