Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved GlaxoSmithKline’s Shingles vaccine, Shingrix. Now, the drugmaker has received more good news after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended Shingrix over Merck’s Zostavax.
“Shingrix represents a significant scientific advancement in the field of vaccinology,” said Dr. Thomas Breuer, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of GSK Vaccines. “The vaccine has shown over 90% efficacy across all age groups in the prevention of shingles, a painful and potentially serious disease that affects 1 in 3 people in the United States.”
The close 8-7 vote in favour of Shingrix was conducted on Wednesday. However, before the recommendation is made official, it must be passed by senior CDC officials.
The advisory committee made the recommendation that everyone over the age of 50 get the vaccine. This could add 10 years to the age range of individuals eligible to be vaccinated against shingles, as previous guidelines only included those aged 60 and older.
They also made the recommendation that individuals who have previously received a Zostavax shot should also be vaccinated with Shingrix in order to boost their immunity. In all, GSK estimates that up to 62 million adults could be eligible to get the vaccine.
“We believe these recommendations reflect the promise of Shingrix and the role this vaccine can play in reducing the incidence and burden of shingles,” said Patrick Desbiens, Senior Vice President, US Vaccines. “Only 31% of adults over the age of 60 have been immunized against shingles and we look forward to partnering with public health officials, healthcare professionals and payers as these recommendations are implemented.”
According to FiercePharma, the lack of real-world evidence for Shingrix could have caused some trepidation among CDC committee members when they were establishing their guidelines for the vaccine. The source also reports that supply of the vaccine could become problematic in the face of such a large population of eligible individuals.
Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the herpes zoster virus, the effects of which can last for months or years. As shingles is caused by reactivation of the virus years after an individual has developed chickenpox, the infection is more common in older adults whose immune systems are weaker.