On Wednesday, British biopharmaceutical giant GSK filed a lawsuit against Pfizer in a U.S. court, alleging that Pfizer’s respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine, Abrysvo, infringes on GSK’s patent rights for its rival RSV shot, Arexvy. According to Reuters the lawsuit was brought before a federal court in Delaware and centers on four patents held by GSK related to the antigen used in their RSV vaccine.
In response, Pfizer issued a statement asserting its confidence in its intellectual property position and vowing to vigorously defend its right to distribute Abrysvo to patients.
Both GSK’s Arexvy and Pfizer’s Abrysvo received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May for use in adults over the age of 60. These vaccines represent a significant breakthrough as they are the first to be approved for the prevention of RSV, which is responsible for causing approximately 14,000 deaths in adults aged 65 and older in the United States every year, as estimated by the government.
The competition between GSK and Pfizer in the RSV vaccine market is intense, given its potential value, which analysts predict could exceed $10 billion by 2030. For both companies, these vaccines are part of their strategies to replace aging drugs that will face competition from cheaper generic alternatives.
A spokesperson from GSK emphasized the importance of intellectual property protections as the foundation for research-based companies to drive innovation. The lawsuit against Pfizer is not expected to hinder GSK’s plans to launch Arexvy.
GSK’s lawsuit claims that Pfizer initiated its RSV program as early as 2013, seven years after GSK had already started working on its own vaccine. The lawsuit further alleges that Pfizer was aware of GSK’s patented technology as early as 2019 when it began challenging the validity of European versions of the patents.
As the legal battle unfolds, both companies will defend their positions in court, and the outcome will significantly impact their respective shares of the lucrative RSV vaccine market.