Zhifei, China’s largest vaccines company, will pay British drugmaker GSK 2.5 billion pounds ($3.05 billion pounds) for exclusive distribution rights to GSK’s shingles vaccine in the world’s No.2 pharmaceuticals market.
British Drugmaker GSK
The agreement is part of a series of moves by Western pharmaceutical companies to gain a larger share of China’s market, including announcements from AstraZeneca.
Announcements From AstraZeneca
Shingrix, the vaccine, is GSK’s best-selling medicine. GSK said the agreement with Zhifei is part of its efforts to reach more than 4 billion pounds ($4.88 billion) in sales by 2026.
According to GSK, Zhifei has a strong track record of advancing access to innovative vaccines in China and has significant scale. The vaccine will now be available in over 30,000 locations across China, up from 9,500 currently.
GSK stated that Zhifei will purchase volumes of Shingrix worth 2.5 billion pounds over a three-year period.
The agreement is set to go into effect on January 1. Following the filing, Zhifei shares rose as much as 20% to 58.40 yuan ($8.00), their highest level since March 27. By 0812 GMT, GSK shares were up 1.2%, close to the session high.
GSK’s Biggest Product
Shingrix is currently GSK’s biggest product and most important growth driver, with 1.71 billion pounds in first-half sales, up 20% from the previous year.
According to JPMorgan analysts, the announcement “de-risks GSK’s Shingrix China sales for the next three years” and has the potential for a 6% increase in 2026 consensus Core EPS (Earnings per Share) forecasts.
GSK’s statement also said that Zhifei has granted it the “right of first refusal to be their exclusive partner for any co-development of an RSV vaccine for older adults in China”.
After regulators approved its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine, Arexvy, in May, the company launched it in the United States.
In a note last month, Barclays analysts stated that the first five weeks of prescription data showed that the vaccine’s launch was off to a strong start and that GSK appeared to be ahead of Pfizer’s competing RSV vaccine.
A GSK shareholder then told Reuters that if the strong start continues through September, consensus estimates for Arexvy sales in 2023, at around 215 million pounds, are “way too low.”
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