CDC delay could temper adult uptake of Pfizer's Prevnar shot

Pfizer ($PFE) has pinned big hopes on Prevnar 13, the latest version of its vaccine against pneumococcus bacteria. It's already commonly used in infants and children to prevent pneumonia and meningitis--not to mention ear infections--and the idea is that it could also stave off pneumonia in older adults. That would not only broaden the potential market considerably, but could also be a major boost to public health. In fact, Prevnar 13 was one of the big drivers behind Pfizer's 2009 buyout of Wyeth, which developed the shot.

All was going according to plan: The FDA granted the "adults 50-plus" indication to Prevnar 13 last year, giving Pfizer the go-ahead to market the shot for that use. But an influential Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee has announced it will wait for more data before deciding whether to recommend that older adults add the vaccine to their regimens.

The data the CDC's vax group is awaiting will come next year from a Dutch study, CAPiTA. It's designed to assess whether the vaccine actually does prevent pneumonia in adults. Waiting until then for a yea or nay won't stop Pfizer's marketing of the shot--its campaign will begin as scheduled next month, the company told Reuters. Pfizer does acknowledge the committee's recommendation will influence early uptake of the shot in adults. "We are committed to continuing discussions with the CDC about a recommendation concerning the use of Prevnar 13 in adults 50 years of age and older," spokeswoman Victoria Davis told the news service.

On average, analysts predict Prevnar 13's sales will hit $4.42 billion this year, Reuters says, and they expect it to increase to $6.75 billion by 2016. J.P. Morgan's Chris Schott told investors the delay won't affect his calculations for the product's value, because the shot isn't going to face a rival anytime soon, Forbes reports.

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ALSO: The CDC's vaccine advisory panel wants U.S. adults to be immunized against whooping cough. Report