New Shingles vaccine on the way?

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Published: Dec 27, 2014

It seems a new Shingles vaccine is all set to roll-out through the market, as sources from Glaxo Smith Kline have reported positive trials that had been carried out on the vaccine HZ/su. This new vaccine could really help prevent the painful disease completely. This vaccine actually serves as a boon for the older people who have had to go through other expensive vaccinations, which were not foolproof. This new vaccine is claimed to be a breakthrough as it completely shrinks down the risk factors that make people aged over 50 years more vulnerable to the disease.

As you may be knowing, Shingles is more virulent form of the milder Chicken-pox which would have affected most people during their childhood. This virus remains latent within the body, near the spinal cord, till it might get activated by some triggers like stress or spinal problems. This re-activated virus travels along the nerve, to damage the skin and causes intense pain thereafter.

GSK Shingles vaccine

Because, of the risk and complications involved in Shingles, it has become a pivotal point for most companies to focus on. So Merck developed its Shingles vaccine that studied the risk of having the disease after administering the vaccine to about 38000 adults in the vulnerable 60+ age group.

This revealed a risk reduction of around 51% and the reduction of the post-healing pain by 66.5%.Though this is quite an appeasing result, which compelled the CDC to approve it, it is still not 100% effective. In fact, CDC has an apprehension that this vaccine may not be effective beyond five years of actually introducing it into a person. A booster shot is also not an option as Merck has not come up with that sort of design for Zostavex.

However, the research that was carried out by Glaxo Smith Kline has been a revolutionary one, since it reduced the risk factors in Shingles by more than 97% as against the 51% by Zostavex.

This research result might be more than enough to edge out Merck’s existing vaccine, as a HZ/su’s success rate close to 100%, was just the kind of assurance that people needed in a Shingles vaccine


That said, it is not possible to say when HZ/su will be able to pass through all the clearances in CDC’s protocol for a Shingle’s vaccine. In fact, Glaxo Smith Kline has still kept it in the development phase.

In the next few months trials will be conducted in three different phases for different age groups to verify the safety of the vaccine. Pfizer’s Lyrica which is being used to treat post-healing plain, might still continue with full flow of sales if HZ/su is not proven to reduce the pain inflicted by Shingles. However, owing to the wonderful result that it has given for Shingles prevention, it is very much possible that the overall cases drop, thus lowering Pfizer’s sales.

Glaxo’s  sales which had lost billions within a year 2010-11, due to various problems like patent validity and pushdown of the Asthma drug Advair, might gradually recover from the decline due to  HZ/su. This is good news for loyal shareholders in Glaxo Smith Kline.