Johnson & Johnson quits RSV while it’s behind

With GSK and Pfizer raring to carve up the market for respiratory syncytial virus vaccines, Johnson & Johnson has decided to withdraw from the fray. The group’s Janssen unit has shelved its project, Ad26.RSV.preF (also called VAC18193), and cancelled its phase 3 study. The Evergreen trial had been expected to report next quarter, but J&J was known to have the data in-house, and presumably feels they are unlikely to differentiate Ad26.RSV.preF from its more advanced rivals. The discontinuation leaves Moderna and Bavarian Nordic as the other players with RSV vaccines in late development; Bavarian’s phase 3 trial, Vanir, is expected to report mid-year, and the company’s Copenhagen-listed shares are up 5% today. This move raises a couple of questions. Firstly, what the canning of the RSV programme might mean for J&J’s vaccine platform. The RSV vaccine was based on the Ad26 vector, as was the group’s Covid vaccine, which was also beaten hollow by the competition. Secondly, whether J&J might have smaller expectations for the size of the RSV market than some of its competitors. Not all analysts are convinced the opportunity is as big as GSK and Pfizer have advertised. Perhaps J&J agrees. 

The remaining late-stage adult RSV vaccine players
Product Company WW sales 2028e ($m) Note
Arexvy GSK 1,742 12-0 vote in favour at FDA adcom, Pdufa 3 May
Abrysvo Pfizer 1,216 7-4 vote in favour at FDA adcom, Pdufa May (no specific date provided)
Phase 3
mRNA-1345 Moderna 913 ConquerRSV hit in Jan, filing expected soon
MVA-BN RSV Bavarian Nordic - Vanir data expected mid-2023
Sources:, company releases, Evaluate Pharma.

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