Global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) today (September 1) introduced Shingrix vaccine in the UK which helps to protect adults against shingles.
The vaccine, which also prevents post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a common complication of shingles, is licensed to be used for adults of 18 years or older who are at increased risk of shingles.
It will be available for purchase at various pharmacy chains, private GP clinics and other healthcare settings.
From today, the vaccine is also available at the current national shingles immunisation programme for patients who are contraindicated to receive the current vaccine on the programme.
Shingles is a painful condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is also responsible for chickenpox. Nearly 90 per cent of adults in the UK have had chickenpox, hence will have the dormant virus present in their nervous system.
The risk of developing shingles increases with advancing age, particularly in adults above 50 as immune system tend to decline with aging.
Karen Mullen, medical director UK & Ireland, GSK, said: “Shingrix was developed specifically to overcome this decline in immune function and to help protect people as they get older. We are pleased that people in the UK will now have access to this vaccine to help reduce the burden of this painful disease.”
Marian Nicholson, director, Shingles Support Society described the shingles pain as “burning, shooting, stabbing or even constant unbearable itching”.
She said: “some people can experience pain for months, or longer, and it is very difficult to treat. For this reason, we welcome any new options to help prevent shingles and associated pain.”
After the UK launch, GSK aims to boost the global supply of the vaccine to benefit more people worldwide.