GSK Chooses Kwangdong Over SK to Sell Quadrivalent Flu Shot

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said it selected Kwangdong Pharmaceutical, instead of SK Bioscience, to sell its quadrivalent influenza vaccine Fluatrix Tetra in Korea.

On Tuesday, GSK said it signed an agreement with Kwangdong Pharmaceutical for a joint sale of Fluatrix Tetra.

GSK said Kwangdong Pharmaceutical would be a joint sales partner to market its quadrivalent influenza vaccine, Fluatrix Tetra, in Korea.

Fluarix Tetra added one more strain of type B virus to a trivalent influenza vaccine.

It can be administered to almost all age groups from six-month-old or older infants to the elderly aged 65 or more and chronic disease patients. The vaccine will be produced at a plant in Dresden, Germany, and imported into Korea as finished goods.

Fluarix Tetra was the first quadrivalent flu vaccine to win marketing approval in Korea in 2014. Yuhan Corp. distributed the vaccine for four years from 2015 and GC Pharma from 2019 to 2020.

GSK's vaccine sales posted 13.6 billion won ($11.6 million) in Korea in 2020.

As the flu season is approaching in Korea, GSK chose Kwangdong as a new sales partner because the company is a seasoned vaccine distributor with a competitive local sales network, GSK said.

Under the agreement with GSK, Kwangdong will sell Fluarix Tetra for all age groups in internal medicine, family medicine, orthopedics, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology.

Kwangdong also announced a plan for domestic sales and distribution of Fluarix Tetra on Tuesday, raising anticipation for growth in earnings.

Kwangdong has been jointly selling GSK's eight pediatric vaccines since 2015.

Last year, the company's revenue rose 12.7 percent on-year to 61.5 billion won by distributing GSK's eight kinds of vaccines.

“It has become all the more important to prevent flu in the Covid-19 pandemic situation, and we will contribute to the public health,” an official at Kwangdong said. “The agreement was also an opportunity to strengthen further the business relationship of the past six years between the two companies.”

Industry watchers questioned why GSK did not choose SK Bioscience, which discussed joint sales of Fluarix Tetra earlier.

In January, GSK and SK Bioscience agreed to jointly sell five types of GSK's vaccines -- Boostrix to prevent TDAP (Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis), Menveo against meningococcal disease, Havrix 1440 against hepatitis A, Priorix against measles and mumps, and Cervarix against cervical cancer.

“We indeed discussed with GSK for a joint sales of Fluarix Tetra,” an official at SK Bioscience said. “But the discussion was to gauge the possibility.”

GSK's not choosing SK Bioscience for Fluatrix Tetra had nothing to do with SK's focus on manufacturing and distributing the Covid-19 vaccine, the official went on to say.

The cooperation between the two companies, including SK's supply of GSK's immunity booster for SK's development of Covid-19, remained strong, he said.

To concentrate on producing and distributing the Covid-19 vaccine, SK Bioscience halted the production of trivalent and quadrivalent SKYcellflu.

The company plans to distribute Sanofi Pasteur's three-strain influenza vaccine Vaxigrip in September in Korea.