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J&J exits the RSV vaccine development race with competitors Pfizer and GSK

March 30, 2023: On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson said it’s ducking out of the RSV vaccine race, weeks following competitors Pfizer and GSK inched closer to announcing the initial shot against the deadly virus of the World.

The firm stated in a press release that J&J would likely stop focusing on its investigational RSV adult vaccine aim and discontinue a pivotal phase three testing of the shot. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based healthcare firm pinned its aim on a portfolio review “to prioritize the most transformational assets for continuous investment.”

Janssen is J&J’s pharmaceutical division. “By periodically refocusing our portfolio, Janssen makes sure that we are invested in products that have the power to change patients’ lives,” Dr Bill Hait, J&J’s executive vice president, stated.

“We remain focused on developing our differentiated pipeline, which develops the lives of millions of patients and grows new modalities in areas with the greatest medical need.”

J&J shares were flat following the announcement.

Dr Vamil Divan, Guggenheim’s senior biopharmaceuticals analyst, stated that the reveal was a “sad but not a complete surprise.” The company is maintaining a neutral rating on J&J, he further stated.

“Today’s news does not remove our overall outlook on JNJ shares, but we think it does increase the pressure on the company needing to deliver positive updates from different key pharma assets later this year,” Divan wrote.

The respiratory syncytial virus is a common virus that usually causes mild, cold symptoms. Most people may get better in a week or two, but older people and infants can witness more severe infections, leading to hospitalization or death.

Shockingly, RSV cases spiked in the U.S. this past winter, overwhelming children’s hospitals nationwide. Since then, the race to create the RSV vaccine has garnered more attention than ever.

The virus has removed over 6,000 to 10,000 seniors and hundred children younger than five yearly.

In September 2022, J&J launched its phase three trial, enrolling roughly 23,000 adults aged 60 and older. A second phase trial on the company’s RSV shot found it gave 80% protection against severe RSV infections.

But the firm still lagged behind rivals Pfizer and GSK, who made significant strides toward U.S. allowance of their shots in the last month.

J&J exits the RSV vaccine development race with competitors Pfizer and GSK