A spokesperson for GSK confirmed that the company will struggle to fully meet the demand for Shingrix during 2019 due to the higher-than-expected demand.
Shingrix is a vaccine for shingles (herpes zoster), approved for use in the US, Germany and Canada.
The vaccine has seen significant uptake in the US, where the spokesperson noted that during the first half of 2018 more people were vaccinated for shingles than were provided a prior vaccine during the entirety of 2017.
By the end of the third quarter of 2018, seven million doses of Shingrix had been administered, globally.
As a result, the spokesperson stated that “because healthcare professionals continue to vaccinate at a rate many times that of previous years, we expect ordering limits to continue throughout 2019.”
To manage the supply issues, GSK will build out its manufacturing capacity to be able to produce doses in the ‘high teens’ of millions, annually. This project will take two to three years to complete, according to the spokesperson.
The vaccines takes six-to-nine months to produce, which means that immediately building levels of supply to meet demand was not possible.
This means that the company will not be able to roll out supply to other countries and the spokesperson confirmed that the company does not have any ‘precise timeframes’ for launches outside of the three countries previously indicated.
Beyond this, the spokesperson told us that “GSK will delay broad consumer education activities like TV commercials until the shortage is resolved. GSK has ongoing communication with 60,000+ pharmacists to educate them about Shingrix and keep them updated on supply.”
In third quarter results, the company predicted that full-year sales for 2018 of the product would be between £700m ($900m) and £750m ($964m), taking it to the edge of blockbuster status in its first full year of sales.