Shot in the arm for GSK as £1.2bn respiratory jab Arexvy is approved for a younger age group

GSK’s blockbuster respiratory jab has been approved for a younger age group in a boost for the drugmaker over rival Pfizer.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given the green light for Arexvy to be prescribed to patients between the ages of 50 and 59.

The vaccine protects against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) which causes cold-like symptoms but can be dangerous for the elderly, newborn babies and vulnerable people.

It has the potential to prevent thousands of hospital admissions each year.

Arexvy was the world’s first RSV jab when it launched in the US last year but it faces competition from alternatives made by Pfizer and Moderna.

Approved: The US Food and Drug Administration  has given the green light for GSK’s respiratory jab Arexvy to be prescribed to patients between the ages of 50 and 59

The success of the shot has been seen as a sign that GSK chief executive Emma Walmsley’s turnaround strategy has begun to pay off.

In 2022 Walmsley revealed plans to refocus the pharma giant on vaccines and infectious diseases, which included selling its consumer healthcare division Haleon. 

The pivot came after GSK fell behind rival Astrazeneca and US competitor Pfizer to create a Covid vaccination during the pandemic.

Yesterday’s announcement makes the £1.2billion vaccine the first RSV jab endorsed for the under-60s by the FDA.

However, GSK will need to wait to see if the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention signs off on the expanded use when it meets later this month.

Arexvy brought in about £1.2billion in sales last year, beating the £699m in revenue that Pfizer’s rival drug generated.

The jab has been approved in Europe, Canada and Japan for over 60s.

However, it is not available in the UK despite receiving initial approval in July 2023.

GSK has avoided a courtroom showdown in Illinois over its former heartburn drug Zantac after the plaintiff withdrew their claim before the trial was due to start yesterday. 

Zantac has come under a wave of scrutiny with around 74,000 cases filed claiming the drug causes cancer.

GSK added that the ‘scientific consensus’ is that there is no ‘consistent or reliable evidence’ that Zantac increases the risk of any cancer.