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GSK shingles vaccine enters late stage trials

Published on 23/08/10 at 04:07pm

GlaxoSmithKline has started enrollment for phase III trials for its herpes zoster vaccine for the prevention of shingles.

The trials will study more than 30,000 patients globally and will evaluate the efficacy, safety and immunogenicity of the candidate vaccine.

Merck’s Zostavax was the first approval of a shingles vaccine and came onto the market in 2006. 

Norman Begg, chief medical officer of GSK biologicals, said: “The commencement of the phase III programme for our candidate herpes zoster vaccine is a significant milestone.

“Shingles is an often debilitating condition for which there are limited treatment and prevention options. That is why progression into late stage development of our herpes zoster vaccine is an important milestone in ongoing efforts to potentially help address an important unmet need.”

In February the UK’s Department of Health said it would use “a rigorous procurement programme” to look for a suitable shingles vaccine.

It is estimated that about three people in every 1,000 have shingles in the UK every year. Shingles can occur at any age, but is most common in people who are 50 or over. Among people who are over 80 years of age, about 11 people in every 1,000 have shingles each year, and can require hospitalisation.

Most people have chickenpox in childhood, but after the illness has gone, the virus remains dormant in the nervous system. The immune system keeps the virus in check, but later in life it can be reactivated and cause shingles. It has the potential to be extremely debilitating, characterised by a rash of painful blisters that can last for a number of months.

Ben Adams