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Analysts see $1.5B boost for Pfizer on 'better than expected' Prevnar 13 data

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Pfizer's ($PFE) Prevnar 13 vaccine slashed the number of pneumonia cases in older adults, according to details from a new study that could add up to $1 billion to its global sales.

According to the study, the pneumococcal vaccine cut new cases of community-acquired pneumonia by 46%, Reuters notes. The study also showed that vaccinated patients 65 and older were 75% less likely to develop invasive infections.

Prevnar 13's success is likely to spawn applications for new or updated uses in the U.S. and elsewhere. It certainly will boost Prevnar's case at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In adults, the CDC's vaccine committee recommends the shot for high-risk patients, including those with compromised immune systems. For the rest, the agency said it would wait to see this study data.

Just how much Prevnar 13 will gain from the new data is up for debate. JPMorgan analyst Chris Schott told Reuters that the data could add $300 million in sales in this age group next year, with $1.5 billion in time. ISI Group's Mark Schoenebaum also adds a possible $1.5 billion to the vaccine's total but says winning a CDC committee recommendation won't necessarily be a simple task.

But BMO Capital Markets' Alex Arfaei sees a bigger boost, Reuters says. Calling the data "positive and better than our expectations," Arfaei said he sees Prevnar 13 growing to $4.1 billion by 2016. Along with a predecessor product that protects against 7 strains of the bacteria, Prevnar 13 accounted for $4 billion in 2013 sales.

Prevnar 13's only competitor is Merck's ($MRK) Pneumovax, and studies suggest the Pfizer vaccine can stimulate a stronger, more durable antibody response. If Pfizer could grab sales from the $650 million Pneumovax, Schoenebaum figures, Prevnar could hit about $1.5 billion in the age group. That's even if overall use of community-acquired pneumonia vaccines doesn't grow.

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