GSK is fully ready to launch its herpes zoster vaccine Shingrix in South Korea next month to become a third player after SK bioscience (Sky Zoster) and another multinational pharmaceutical firm MSD.
Shingrix will be distributed by local partners GC Pharma and Kwangdong Pharmaceutical, according to sources on Wednesday.
The two-dose shingles vaccine Shingrix is a killed vaccine unlike Zostavax and Sky Zoster. This means Shingrix can be given to those who cannot receive a live vaccine due to weakened immunity. But its price is expected to be at least twice higher than that of the established vaccines.
Sky Zoster launched in 2017 and Zostavax launched in 2012 are both live attenuated vaccines with a single-dose format. Zostavax sells at 150,000-200,000 won ($105-141) per shot, and Sky Zoster at 100,000-150,000 won. Zostavax currently occupies 60 percent of the local market.
With the new product launch, the herpes zoster market will become more fragmented and larger in Korea, said an SK bioscience official, adding that Sky Zoster won’t lose its competitive edge because it is much cheaper and convenient with one dose.
Still the newcomer may quickly penetrate into the market despite its high price due to stronger effectiveness.
In global clinical studies, Zostavax and Sky Zoster prevented herpes zoster in more than 50 percent of people over 50 years old versus 97 percent in Shingrix arms. Even for people over 70 years old, the figure was more than 90 percent in Shingrix versus 41 percent in other vaccines. Shingrix is also known to prevent neuralgia after herpes zoster. With these advantages, Shingrix’ market share commands 98 percent in the U.S., with sales for the first half of this year exceeding 2 trillion won.
By Kim Si-gyun and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]