GlaxoSmithKline's Shingrix supply will vault upward, CEO says—in 2024, that is

GlaxoSmithKline has been laboring to boost supplies of next-gen shingles vaccine Shingrix, thanks to a speedy launch that bested all expectations. While it's planning a slight increase next year, the real "step change" will come in 2024 with a brand-new facility.

That's the word from CEO Emma Walmsley, who said on a recent conference call that the new operation will dramatically boost output. As it stands, company execs have said they plan to produce doses in the "high teens millions" through the end of this year to support the current rollout. 

By contrast, the drugmaker expects the new site to deliver a dose increase in the “tens of millions," GSK vaccine president Roger Connor told Reuters. GSK is building the site in an undisclosed location to complement an existing bioreactor in Belgium, according to the report. 

In the meantime, GSK plans a slight increase in production next year. 

GSK has good reason to invest in added manufacturing capacity. Since its 2017 approval, the vaccine has been a top growth engine for the company, hitting sales of $1.6 billion in the first 9 months of 2019. 

And that performance came despite supply constraints. Late last year, the company said an ongoing U.S. shortage of the vaccine would last “throughout 2019" as strong demand had been outstripping supply. To deal with the limitations, the company has limited orders and delayed TV ads.

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline's Shingrix shortage expected to persist 'throughout 2019' 

Looking ahead, GSK continues to win new market approval, and it'll have to support those future rollouts with added capacity. The drugmaker just won an approval in the massive Chinese market in May. 

Aside from the U.S., GSK has already launched in Germany and Canada and plans "phased launches" in China and Japan next year, execs said on the call. GSK global pharma head Luke Miels said the Chinese rollout would be a "very targeted initial launch because of the supply" constraints.