GSK, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson race toward $10B-plus RSV vaccine market: analyst

Vaccines
COVID-19 vaccines are getting all the headlines right now, but another big market looms on the horizon, one analyst writes.(Getty Images)

While COVID-19 vaccines set all sorts of industry launch records, another potential megablockbuster vaccine market looms on the horizon. Some of pharma's top players including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline are expected to be involved.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, has long been a top target for vaccine developers. While companies have suffered high-profile trial failures over the years, vaccines are now advancing through late-stage testing and could launch in 2023, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges wrote to clients this week. 

As companies race to the FDA finish line, a market worth $10.5 billion could take shape over the next decade, Porges says.

Based on currently available information, the analyst expects vaccine giant GSK to nab $2.9 billion of that total revenue by 2030, while Pfizer collects $2.1 billion, J&J picks up $1.7 billion and Sanofi scores $1.2 billion.

GSK, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline are all in late-stage testing for their RSV shots. Sanofi, while it's a leading vaccine player worldwide, is taking another approach with its late-stage RSV program. The company and partner AstraZeneca are working on a prophylactic monoclonal antibody for infants, and they plan to file for approval next year.

Other vaccine and drug developers including Bavarian Nordic and Moderna are in mid-stage testing or earlier in RSV and are expected to capture $2.6 billion of the overall market, Porges wrote.

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As for the three leading vaccines from Pfizer, GSK and J&J, Porges expects "more or less equal timing" for their launches and a "low probability of real differentiation between the programs." The analysts' team plans to update their RSV sales model over time as more data become available.

Just last week, Pfizer started a phase 3 trial of its RSV vaccine candidate in adults 60 and older. With the company's COVID-19 vaccine launch experience, the company could be a "significant" competitor in the field, Porges wrote. Pfizer expects results as early as the first quarter of 2022, Porges wrote.

GSK expects a late-stage readout for its trial in the second half of next year. J&J hasn't released its expected phase 3 trial timeline. 

By 2030, Porges expects that 72% of the RSV market will come from adults, while 10% comes from maternal immunization—or vaccinating mothers to protect their babies—and 18% comes from infants.

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RSV, the top cause of pneumonia and pneumonia in children under one, is spread through respiratory droplets or contact with a contaminated surface. The virus usually emerges in the fall in the United States and peaks in the winter.

But in recent months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have been noting an uptick in RSV cases. During an unusual summer RSV season, pediatric hospitals reported infections around the Southern United States, the CDC warned in June.