As GSK's RSV shot nears blockbuster threshold, CEO sees plenty of 'headroom for growth'

As the battle between new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccines heats up, GSK is “delighted” with the progress it's made so far with Arexvy, the company's CEO Emma Walmsley has said. 

During a Reuters Newsmaker interview Thursday, Walmsley reiterated that her company expects Arexvy to bring home sales of more than £1 billion in its first year on the market. And despite that swift takeoff, there’s still “lots of headroom for growth,” Walmsley added.

Chalk it up to the fact that GSK’s vaccine has so far reached just 3 million of the more than 80 million adults over 60 at risk from RSV in the United States, Walmsley said during the interview.

Further, Walmsley figures it’s a net positive that Arexvy largely arrived in tandem with Pfizer’s rival immunization Abrysvo this summer. Having more products on tap creates more awareness, for one, Walmsley told Reuters' Michele Gershberg. 

When it comes to marketing of the shot, GSK is leveraging its large respiratory field force, Walmsley added. The company has long maintained a leading position in the respiratory field, and those reps are now helping raise awareness about RSV, she said.

“We’re able to build awareness through the primary care channel because at this stage, the approvals for these vaccines still need the recommendation of either a general practitioner or a pharmacist,” she explained.

While it’s “early days” in Arexvy’s launch, GSK is “delighted” with the progress it's made so far, Walmsley said.

Pfizer is currently singing a different tune.

“If you look at our market share, I don’t think we performed as well as we thought we could, or we think we will going forward,” Pfizer’s CFO David Denton said at a recent conference hosted by Evercore ISI.

“I think as we go into 2024,” Denton added, “we have eyes on focusing to make sure that we get more than our fair share in the marketplace.”

In the third quarter, GSK’s Arexvy nabbed £709 million (about $860 million), more than doubling the $375 million in revenues from Pfizer’s Abrysvo over that same stretch. 

Meanwhile, GSK has a sizeable chunk of cash in its war chest thanks to the recent spinoff of its consumer health business Haleon.

As for how it could put that money to use, “we’re always ambitious,” Walmsley noted during the Reuters interview, adding that the company has been clear its top priorities are “the pipeline and further innovation.”