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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

GSK’s shingles vaccine to replace MSD’s predecessor

Health Industry Hub | October 9, 2023 |

Pharma News: Infectious diseases clinicians welcome the listing of GSK’s Shingrix, a recombinant varicella zoster virus glycoprotein E antigen (AS01B adjuvanted vaccine), on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in Australia, slated to take effect from 1 November 2023. The Federal Government has allocated $826.8 million for Shingrix to replace the less effective MSD’s Zostavax vaccine on the NIP for the prevention of herpes zoster (HZ) and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

COVID-19 vaccine rollouts wreaked havoc on normal vaccination schedules. Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney and infectious diseases expert, Robert Booy, expressed his endorsement for the NIP listing.

Professor Booy emphasised, “Access to Shingrix via the National Immunisation Program creates further opportunities for healthcare professionals to talk about shingles with their high-risk patients.” He further added, “The prevention of shingles for these patients in particular is critical, as the impact of the disease can be very serious, especially if they develop long-term complications like post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN.”

The Shingrix vaccine is the first approved shingles vaccine to merge a non-live antigen with GSK’s adjuvant system, ASO1B, to tackle the waning immunity associated with aging, a crucial factor in shingles prevention for older adults.

This listing opens up new avenues for safeguarding targeted demographics, including individuals aged 65 and above, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals aged 50 and older, and immunocompromised individuals aged 18 and older with specific ‘high risk’ conditions for shingles, such as haematopoietic stem cell transplant, solid organ transplant, haematological malignancy, and advanced or untreated HIV1.

“For shingles patients aged 50 to 59 there is about a 10% chance of developing PHN, and for those over 80 this increases to 20%. Having a newly funded shingles vaccine on the NIP can help protect older Australians from this painful and debilitating disease,” commented Professor Booy.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) have issued a recommendation, affirming the importance of Shingrix. They advise that all immunocompetent individuals aged 50 and above, along with immunocompromised adults starting from 18 years of age, receive Shingrix in a two-dose schedule.

Dr Alan Paul, country medical director at GSK Australia, lauded the Federal Government’s decision, emphasising the broader societal benefits of such vaccinations.

“Vaccinations help keep people well, and can reduce demands on primary care and hospitals, as well as increasing productivity and benefiting the community and economy,” he stated. “This is an important investment in the health of over four million Australians who are at greater risk of shingles.”

The pivotal phase III clinical trials, ZOE-50 and ZOE-70, demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of over 90% against shingles in immunocompetent adults aged 50 years and older, during a follow-up period of up to four years. Extension trials, including ZOE-049 and clinical trials in immunocompromised adults, have highlighted the vaccine’s enduring efficacy, reaching up to a decade after the initial vaccination.

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