Is Shingrix Bovine Derived?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the ingredients of Shingrix.

Jun 28, 2018

ldueber asked

My question relates to neomycin and shingrix vaccine. Just to clarify, it appears this ingredient is in zostavax due to the bovine component, and is not found in the shingrix vaccine ingredients at all. I am asking due to my own penicillin allergy. Thank you


You are correct that Zostavax, the previously recommended shingles vaccine manufactured by Merck, is bovine derived. Shingrix however, is not. In addition, it does not contain neomycin and is safe for those with a neomycin allergy. It is also safe for those with a penicillin allergy (although neomycin and penicillin are not related nor are in the same class of antibiotics.

The ingredients of Shingrix are as follows:

  • Recombinant gE antigen (50 mcg)
  • Monophosphoryl lipid A (50 mcg)
  • QS-21 50 mcg (saponin purified from plant extract Quillaja saponaria)
  • Sucrose 20 mg
  • Sodium chloride 4.385 mg
  • DOPC (dioleoyl phosphatidylcholine) 1 mg
  • Potassium dihydrogen phosphate 0.54 mg
  • Cholesterol 0.25 mg
  • Sodium dihydrogen 0.160 mg
  • Phosphate dihydrate
  • Disodium phosphate anhydrous 0.15 mg
  • Dipotassium phosphate 0.116 mg
  • Polysorbate 80 0.08 mg
  • Residual amounts of host cell proteins (≤3.0%) and DNA (≤2.1 picograms) from the manufacturing process.

Lastly, the prescribing information for Shingrix states:

"The gE antigen [varicella zoster virus] is obtained by culturing genetically engineered Chinese Hamster Ovary cells, which carry a truncated gE gene, in media containing amino acids, with no albumin, antibiotics, or animal-derived proteins."

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