12. Prevnar 13

Prevnar 13
Pfizer's Prevnar 13 has generated blockbuster sales for years, but next-gen offerings are coming. (Pfizer)

Prevnar 13 
Company: Pfizer 
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. 

RELATED: Pfizer's 'Prevnar 20' gets in FDA fast lane as next-gen pneumococcal vaccine race heats up with Merck 

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.   

RELATED: Ready to square off with Pfizer in next-gen pneumococcal vaccines, a Merck exec says competition's a good thing 

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. 

12. Prevnar 13