2020 sales: $5.95 billion
Disease: Pneumococcal disease
Pfizer’s pneumococcal shot Prevnar 13 has held the top spot in global vaccine sales for years—a reign that’s set to end in 2021 thanks to the unprecedented COVID-19 vaccine rollouts.
The shot, first approved in 2010, protects against invasive disease from 13 strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae. It’s been a reliable revenue generator for the drugmaker for many years.
Global sales reached $5.95 billion in 2020, a 10% growth. Despite pandemic challenges, sales increased thanks to increased adult uptake in Europe as more people became aware of the importance of vaccines, Pfizer said. In the U.S, government purchases for the pediatric indication drove sales growth, while sales from adults were slightly down.
In 2014, the shot scored a key endorsement from a CDC committee in adults over 65. The rollout in that population drove sales growth for years, but now there’s less of a “catch up population” among the elderly.
While Prevnar 13 has long held the top spot in the global rankings of vaccines by revenues, Pfizer’s own COVID-19 shot will likely take that spot next year. Pfizer has said it expects $15 billion—or more—from the shot, while its partner BioNTech expects to collect $11 billion or more.
Aside from the COVID-19 vaccine rollouts, Pfizer is racing against vaccine rival Merck to launch a next-gen pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Pfizer’s next-gen shot protects against 20 serotypes, while Merck’s candidate targets 15.
In December, Pfizer’s program scored an FDA priority review, putting its decision deadline in June. Merck’s rival program scored a priority review in January, so its target date falls in July.
The shots are racing for approvals in the adult population first. In children, Merck’s development program is expected to wrap up in November, leading Pfizer’s program by about a year, RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky previously wrote.
Both programs represent blockbuster opportunities for their respective companies.