Takeda's dengue shot 80% effective in massive phase 3 test

Takeda has laid out considerable time, effort and money on its dengue vaccine program despite Sanofi's trouble with its earlier entrant. Now, the Japanese drug giant has promising phase 3 data and a new plant to show for it. 

In a study called Tides, investigators tested the Takeda vaccine, TAK-003, against placebo in more than 20,000 participants aged four to 16 in dengue-endemic countries in Latin America and Asia. Twice as many participants received the vaccine as those who received placebo. 

In those who received both doses, the vaccine was 80.2% effective, the team reported Wednesday. Investigators tracked 61 cases of dengue in the vaccine group versus 149 in the placebo group, according to results published in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

Importantly, efficacy varied among dengue serotypes. The vaccine was 73.7% effective against dengue serotype 1, 97.7% effective against serotype 2 and 62.6% effective against serotype 3. The investigators didn't track enough serotype 4 cases to reach an efficacy determination. 

The shot was 95.4% effective in preventing dengue that required hospitalization; there were five hospitalizations in the vaccine group versus 53 in the placebo group. The company has said it expects phase 3 studies to form the basis for regulatory submissions.

Derek Wallace, Takeda’s dengue vaccine program chief, told FiercePharma the company is “encouraged by the data” as the results demonstrate the vaccine “has a potential to have a very big impact” on the dengue burden worldwide.

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Takeda is particularly pleased about the vaccine’s performance in participants who hadn't had a prior dengue infection, Wallace said. In that group, the vaccine was 74.9% effective in preventing dengue. 

Pharma watchers may remember that Sanofi's dengue vaccine, the world's first, tripped up because of safety problems in those who hadn't had prior infections.

The French drugmaker rolled out the shot in 2016, but in late 2017, the company said a new analysis had found it could cause more serious disease in those who’d been infected before. The disclosure triggered outrage in the Philippines, where officials had started a vaccination campaign. 

All told, the scandal knocked Sanofi’s vaccine off its launch trajectory and the company faced numerous questions about the vaccine's safety and its rollout in the Philippines. Dengvaxia originally had blockbuster expectations, but in 2018, its sales weren’t significant enough for Sanofi to disclose. 

RELATED: Takeda opens €130M plant to produce dengue vaccine it has yet to get approved 

Still, Takeda isn't backing down from the dengue vaccine challenge. The company just this week opened a €130 million plant in Germany to meet global demand for the shot once it launches. The drugmaker plans to employ up to 200 workers at the plant. 

Wallace previously said the phase 3 Tides test required Takeda's vaccine unit to build up a "global footprint" that included vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities.