Pfizer's superselling Prevnar 13 jab wins expanded use in U.S.

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Already the world’s best-selling vaccine, Pfizer’s ($PFE) Prevnar 13 got yet another boost Tuesday with an expanded FDA approval in adults aged 18 to 49.

Prevnar, which reeled in $6.2 billion last year to propel vaccines unit sales gains for the New York pharma, is now approved in adults 18 and older and for children aged 6 weeks through 17 years.

The expansion--based on a review of Phase III data comparing the shot in adults 18 to 49 and 60 to 64--brings Prevnar’s label closer to a CDC committee recommendation in 2012 that adults 19 and older with immunocompromising conditions receive the vaccine.

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It’s more good news for Pfizer’s vaccines outfit, which has been riding the success of the world’s top-selling jab following a separate CDC committee recommendation in 2014 that adults aged 65 and older get the vaccine. Last year, the unit went on a tear, posting growth each quarter of 40% or more versus the same period the previous year.

In total, Pfizer’s vaccines sales grew 44% in 2015, largely due to Prevnar 13 uptake following the recommendation. But on quarterly calls, execs said they expected the catch-up population to last through 2016 and possibly 2017, while 4 million people additionally reach age 65 each year. After 18% growth in this year’s first quarter, Pfizer management said they believe Prevnar sales in 2016 will be similar to 2015.

But instead of relying solely on the superstar vaccine, Pfizer has worked to diversify its offerings through R&D and acquisitions. It bought Baxter’s ($BAX) marketed vaccines portfolio for $635 million, Switzerland's RedVax for an undisclosed sum and two older GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) meningitis ACWY vaccines for $130 million. In addition, it's testing vaccines against S. aureus and C. diff and unveiled a cancer vaccines platform last summer, among other projects in the works.

- here’s the release

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