Revved up by Novartis swap, GSK expected to top Sanofi, Pfizer and Merck in 2022 vax sales

A year can make a big difference in the vaccines industry--especially when a big deal is involved. GlaxoSmithKline has jumped to the top of a new sales analysis for 2022, leapfrogging from last year's fourth place to first with more than $8 billion in sales.

It’s a stark difference from 2015's EvaluatePharma World Preview, which had predicted that Merck & Co. would lead vaccines sales by 2020, with Pfizer, Glaxo and Sanofi trailing in order.

So, what accounts for the change?

As EP head of forecasting Antonio Iervolino put it, GSK’s position was “significantly strengthened” by the vaccines it picked up in an asset swap with Novartis last year. Glaxo has done well with Novartis' vaccines portfolio so far, and it's now expected to ride 6% growth through 2022 to the top spot at $8.55 billion, EP predicts.

That's up from $5.56 billion in 2015 vaccines sales for Glaxo, a number that trailed other large vax players. As of last year’s report, EP predicted Glaxo to ring in at third in the top vaccines companies by 2020.

One of GSK's vaccine prospects, Shingrix, is expected to boost the British pharma by reeling in $1 billion in sales by 2022, EP said. Now on its way to an FDA filing this year, the shingles vaccine has demonstrated in clinical trials that it can protect 90% of individuals aged 70 and older.

Sanofi is now expected to take the No. 2 position by 2022, EP said, surpassing expectations totted up last year. The French pharma's vaccines are expected to grow 5% annually, to $8.29 billion in 2022 sales, according to the analysts. That expansion is expected to come from Pentacel, Fluzone and its new dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, EP said. 

But so far, Sanofi has encountered trouble with its Dengvaxia launch, posting just €1 million in Q2 sales. Execs have said the vaccine will likely miss estimates of €200 million for this year.

Merck and Pfizer, which EP had expected to lead 2020 vaccine sales at No. 1 and No. 2, “share a similar problem” with growth in the next 5 years, Iervolino said. The companies’ established vaccines Gardasil and Prevnar are predicted to slow down, and their new-vax pipelines don’t “seem to excite the financial community,” he said.

Pfizer’s lead vaccine franchise, Prevnar, brought in $6.2 billion last year, but its recent breakneck growth is expected to slow, according to EP. The pneumococcal shot is expected to "remain the main contributor" to the New York pharma's vaccines business, but "achieving year-on-year growth will be ever more challenging" going forward, Iervolino noted, as 30% of U.S. adults over age 65 have already been vaccinated.

EvaluatePharma predicts Pfizer and Merck vaccines sales to grow 2% each year through 2022, below an industry average of 5%. In 2022, Pfizer's vaccines are expected to bring in $7.4 billion and Merck's, $7.2 billion.

Iervolino did note that Pfizer has been active in vaccines M&A, “so there could be an upside which is not fully reflected in the current long-term outlook.”

Together, GSK, Sanofi, Pfizer and Merck are expected to hold 80% of the vaccine market by 2022, a testament to the scale needed to compete in the industry. Smaller players Novavax, CSL, Emergent BioSolutions, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Astellas and Dynavax are expected to fall in order behind them in sales, according to the report.

However, EP issued its analysis before Novavax’s RSV F vaccine failed a Phase III trial, which Iervolino said could “potentially push out this programme of a few years and raise concerns on the ability of Novavax to partner the asset at this stage.”

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