GSK invests €250M-plus in vaccine manufacturing as Shingrix surges, RSV launch kicks off

As GSK's vaccine ambitions grow with the launch of new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) shot Arexvy, the company is once again investing to support its manufacturing operations.

The British pharma is laying out more than 250 million euros ($273 million) to build a new facility at its Wavre campus in Belgium, a spokesperson said.

Expected to be operational in 2027, the unit will handle freeze-dried vaccines, including GSK’s new RSV launch Arexvy. The company's fast-growing shingles shot Shingrix and its malaria shot Mosquirix will also be made at the center, according to the company's spokesperson. 

The new center is designed to increase the efficiency of manufacturing processes and reduce environmental impact.

“The ambition is to have tens of millions of doses lyophilized each year,” the spokesperson added.

GSK has pegged Arexvy as a major contributor to growth for years. The vaccine will compete against Pfizer’s Abrysvo in older adults starting from this RSV season.

Arexvy will “build over multiple years in the U.S.,” GSK’s commercial chief Luke Miels said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in February. Although Arexvy isn't expected to grow as fast as Shingrix, GSK plans to follow a similar launch strategy. The company will focus on “maintaining price discipline, expanding into Europe and rest of world over the next few years,” Miels said.

GSK previously run into a production bottleneck with Shingrix and delayed the shingles vaccine’s launch in China because of supply constraints.

That problem appears to have been solved. After a pandemic-related lull, sales of Shingrix jumped 60% at constant currencies to 3 billion pounds sterling in 2022. More recently, demand for the vaccine outside the U.S. more than compensated for some unfavorable U.S. inventory movements, GSK said. Sales of the vaccine grew 16% to 1.7 billion pounds in the first half of 2023.

Belgium has become a manufacturing hub for vaccines. Besides Wavre, Belgium also hosts two other GSK vaccine sites in Rixensart and Gembloux. A Pfizer site in Puurs, Belgium, grabbed the spotlight during the pandemic for making BioNTech-partnered COVID vaccine Comirnaty.

Outside of Belgium, GSK has recently made vaccine production investment in Singapore. GSK last month broke ground on a $254 million drug substance facility at its Tuas site to make the hepatitis B shot Engerix-B. The new facility will also start commercial production in 2027.