GSK’s sales of Fluarix Tetra, a vaccine against four different strains of influenza viruses, plummeted last year, and the company had to give away its No. 1 position to SK Bioscience in 2019. The second-largest quadrivalent flu vaccine seller was GC Pharma.
According to data by IQVIA, a pharmaceutical market research firm, the domestic market of quadrivalent influenza vaccines expanded 9.5 percent on-year to 52.8 billion won ($44.4 million) in 2019, compared to 48.2 billion won in the previous year.
The sales of GSK’s Fluarix Tetra, which used to lead the local market for years, plunged to 7.9 billion won last year, down 32.4 percent from 11.6 billion won a year earlier.
GSK rolled out Fluarix Tetra as the nation’s first quadrivalent flu vaccine in 2016 and kept the leading position in the quadrivalent flu vaccine market between 2016 and 2018.
Due to the significant fall of the sales last year, however, GSK’s Fluarix Tetra was beaten by SK Bioscience’s SKY Cell Flu Quadrivalent and GC Pharma’s GCFlu Quadrivalent.
Observers attributed the slide of Fluarix Tetra sales to a reduction of the product supply for the 2019-2020 flu season. GSK’s first-quarter sales of Fluarix Tetra for the 2018-2019 flu season recorded 400 million won, much higher than SKY Cell Flu sales of 270 million won or GCFlu Quadrivalent’s 120 million won.
However, Fluarix Tetra’s performance started to fall in the third and fourth quarters for the 2019-2020 flu season. While SKY Cell Flu sold 1.2 billion won and 11.7 billion won in the third and fourth quarter, respectively, Fluarix Tetra sold only 200 million won and 7.2 billion won in the third and fourth quarter, respectively. For the 2019-2020 flu season, GSK started to sell Fluarix Tetra from October last year.
Fluarix Tetra was out of stock in two months after GSK released it for the 2019-2020 flu season, which is why observers attributed the sales decline to the shortage of supply.
Industry sources said the shipments of Fluarix Tetra for the 2019-2020 flu season were markedly lower than those for the previous flu seasons.
The poor performance of Fluarix Tetra helped SK Bioscience’s SKY Cell Flu top the quadrivalent flu vaccine market. SKY Cell Flu’s revenue grew 16.3 percent to 13.1 billion won in 2019. GC Pharma's GCFlu Quadrivalent came in the second with 12.4 billion won sales, which was a 61.1 percent jump from the previous year’s revenue.
Boryung Biopharma’s Flu VIII Tetra also marked a robust 26.8 percent year-on-year growth, selling 4.5 billion won last year. Other companies such as Korea Vaccine, Dong-A ST, and Il-yang Pharm also showed robust growth in quadrivalent flu vaccines, but their market shares remained small.
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