Pfizer continues vaccines hot streak with 43% Q3 growth

After a strong first half, Pfizer's vaccine unit didn't let up in the third quarter, continuing on an upward trajectory as growing Prevnar 13 sales continued to propel the unit forward.

For the third quarter, Pfizer ($PFE) grew its vaccines revenue 43% worldwide versus the same period last year. In the U.S., revenues increased 78% due to "continued strong uptake" of Prevnar 13 in adults while sales internationally increased 19%, also driven by Prevnar 13, the company said in a statement.

The increase follows a 44% sales jump for the unit in Q2 and Q1, both driven by Prevnar 13 uptake. Recent sales increases for the superstar pneumococcal disease blocker stem from the CDC's decision last year to recommend the shot in adults over 65, an estimated $2 billion boost for the product Pfizer says is still early in its life cycle.

Albert Bourla

On the company's second-quarter call, Pfizer's president of vaccines, oncology and consumer healthcare Albert Bourla said that the Prevnar 13 catch-up population will last into next year and possibly 2017, while an additional 4 million people annually will reach the age of 65. Pfizer is also looking to broaden the vaccine's reach in G7 countries, he added, where it'll work "country by country" to do so.

Prevnar was the best-selling vaccine in the world in 2014 with sales of $4.3 billion, estimated by EvaluatePharma analysts to grow to $5.83 billion by 2020.

Simultaneous to Prevnar 13's growth, Pfizer has worked to broaden its vaccines unit beyond sole reliance on the blockbuster. Since last summer, it has purchased Baxter's ($BAX) marketed vaccines portfolio for $635 million, Switzerland's RedVax for an undisclosed sum and two older meningitis B vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) for $130 million.

It's also advancing internal candidates against S. Aureus and C. diff through clinical trials, and this summer touted a "comprehensive" approach to the field, announcing a new cancer vaccines program and a maternal human cytomegalovirus vaccine candidate.

And, within the last month, Pfizer said its meningitis B vaccine Trumenba showed "robust" protection against certain meningitis B strains in two Phase III trials and that the vaccine was effective when administered along with Menactra and Adacel from Sanofi Pasteur.

- here's the release (PDF)