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J&J bows out of RSV vaccine race after scrapping trial


Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) said it will discontinue the late-stage study of its experimental respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) adult vaccine, weeks after rivals Pfizer and GSK gained a lead in the race for the first vaccine against the virus.

J&J made the decision in order to “to focus on medicines with the greatest potential benefit to patients,” the company said on Wednesday.

The drugmaker, which started the global study in September 2021 in about 23,000 adults aged 60 years and older, did not provide any further details about the trial.

J&J started the study following positive results from a mid-stage trial, which showed the vaccine was 80% effective in protecting against lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV.

Pfizer (PFE.N) and GSK’s (GSK.L) RSV vaccines gained the backing of a panel of U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers in late February and early March, bringing them a step closer to approval in the United States. The health regulator is expected to decide on the two vaccines by May.

Pfizer and GSK are running a tight race to tap into the RSV vaccine market, which is estimated to be more than $5 billion and could exceed $10 billion by 2030, according to analysts.

There is currently no approved vaccine to prevent lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in older adults. It is responsible for 14,000 deaths in adults aged 65 and older annually in the United States, according to government data.

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Johnson & Johnson company offices are shown in Irvine, California, U.S., October 14, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake/

The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

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