GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals (GSK) announced the launch of Shingrix (Zoster Vaccine Recombinant, Adjuvanted) in India, for the prevention of shingles (herpes zoster) and post-herpetic neuralgia in adults aged 50 years and above. Shingrix is a non-live, recombinant subunit vaccine to be given intramuscularly in two doses. Shingles are caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox.
A seroprevalence study in Indian subjects showed that by the age of 40 years more than 90 per cent had this virus in their body and were vulnerable to shingles. Shingles cause a painful rash. In all cases, the rash disappears, but in a large number of cases, the pain persists for months or years. This pain is known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
Bhushan Akshikar, MD, GSK says, “GSK is pleased to bring Shingrix to protect India’s 260 million adults above 50 years of age from shingles and its complications. Existing treatment options may not give complete relief from this pain. Vaccination is the only effective preventive option.”
Adults above 50 years of age and those suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and kidney diseases are at an increased risk of developing shingles because of weakened immunity. The risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia is 30 per cent higher and the pain is more debilitating in adults above 50 years of age. This pain can even cause psychological disturbances and increased dependence on caregivers. Shingles can also lead to complications such as vision loss and hearing loss in older adults. Since Shingrix is a non-live vaccine it can be offered to those, above the age of 50 years, who are immunocompromised and/or immunosuppressed and who are potentially at a greater risk of Shingles disease.
Shingrix was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of shingles in adults 50 years of age or older in 2017. The European Commission gave Shingrix approval for the prevention of shingles in adults 50 years of age or older in 2018.