Amid Shingrix rebound, GSK vaccine marketing exec jumps ship to Valneva

Amid a soft relaunch of GSK’s flagship shot Shingrix, the British pharma is bidding bon voyage to marketing exec Dipal Patel.

Patel, who’s served as global commercial head of GSK’s shingles vaccine since 2019, has decamped for French biotech Valneva, where she’ll fill the newly minted role of chief commercial officer.

Burned this summer by a stagnant COVID-19 vaccine market, Valneva’s next commercial vaccine opportunity resides with its chikungunya shot, which would become the world’s first against the mosquito-borne virus if approved.

With plans to complete a rolling FDA submission on its candidate VLA1553 by year-end, Valneva figures it’s the right time to bulk up its management team ahead of a potential 2023 market debut.

With more than 23 years of industry experience, incoming CCO Patel certainly has the qualifications to lead that commercial charge into chikungunya. That résumé most recently included captaining GSK’s worldwide Shingrix business, which is now on the upswing after a pandemic-fueled sales slump.

“As the travel industry recovers, Dipal will ensure we are further growing our commercial business and preparing the best market access and launch for our chikungunya vaccine candidate,” Thomas Lingelbach, CEO of Valneva, said in a statement.

But even as Valneva builds out its C-suite, the company is eliminating around 175 other roles. During its third-quarter earnings presentation, the company said it would slash its workforce by 20% to 25% as part of a “reshape strategy” and “resizing” of operations.

Despite Valneva’s COVID shot snaring authorization in Europe earlier this year, the bloc this summer backtracked on planned vaccine orders. This ultimately prompted Valneva to pause production, nix a manufacturing accord with Germany’s IDT Biologika and seek partners to help bankroll its plans for a next-gen COVID shot.

The company employed around 750 people worldwide earlier this year, meaning the cuts will affect roughly 175 staffers. Still, that leaves Valneva with 25% more employees than it had before the pandemic, the company said earlier this month, adding that the downsizing should yield annual savings of 12 million euros ($12 million).