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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

GSK launches new shingles vaccine for Aussie patients

Health Industry Hub | June 8, 2021 |
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Pharma News: GSK Australia today announced that a new vaccine to help protect against shingles in adults aged 50 years and older is now available on the private market in Australia.

According to infectious disease physician and clinical virologist Professor Tony Cunningham, the availability of additional options to help prevent shingles and associated complications are welcome.

“Shingles can be very painful. The pain associated with shingles is often described as burning, shooting or stabbing. The acute pain can last for between 2 to 4 weeks, with some people potentially experiencing complications and chronic pain for months

“Doctors never like to see their patients in pain. Shingles can be difficult to treat once the symptoms break out, so vaccines can play an important role in helping reduce the impact of the infection here in Australia where up to 1 in 3 people experience the disease,” said Professor Cunningham.

Shingrix, herpes zoster recombinant subunit adjuvanted vaccine, is registered for Australian adults aged 50 years and over for the prevention of shingles and prevention of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a complication of shingles that can result in persistent nerve pain for months or years after the initial shingles rash resolves. Up to 30% of people with shingles may develop PHN.

The results of a recently published study concluded that the effectiveness of Shingrix is high in a real-world setting. The findings support the results of earlier clinical trials that showed the vaccine was over 90% effective in preventing herpes zoster.

“Because most Australian adults had chickenpox as kids, it means that most of us are therefore at risk of developing shingles,” Prof Cunningham said.

“Shingles involves the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, the risk of reactivation increases with age, particularly after 50 years as the immune system ages.”

Co Luu, Vaccines Medical Director at GSK Australia, says bringing innovative medicines and vaccines to Australia is a core focus.

“GSK Australia is very proud to make this shingles vaccine available in Australia. GSK has been at the heart of research into how the immune system declines as we age, and we know that more prevention options are needed.  We are thrilled that with the supply of Shingrix into Australia, we will be able to help protect more Australians from shingles,” said Mr Luu.

“GSK is committed to bringing innovative solutions to the people who need them most, and today’s announcement is evidence of that.”

Shingrix was TGA approved in 2017 but not recommended for PBS listing in 2018 despite its higher efficacy. Patients with a private health fund and ‘Pharmacy Extras’ cover may be entitled to a maximum of $50 back per script.

Shingles can affect up to 1 in 3 people at some stage in their lives, and this risk increases with age. In Australia, it is estimated that 120,000 new cases of shingles occur each year and account for approximately one in 1,000 of all GP visits.


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