Pfizer has released positive results for its pneumococcal vaccine, Prevnar-13. The vaccine was more effective in adults over age 50 than the current vaccine recommended for adults over 65. And those Phase III results could help Pfizer broaden the vaccine's market.
"We've got the data to show that this gives rise to a very good immune response," said Pfizer vaccine chief Emilio Emini in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. "The argument is that every adult, as they get older, needs to get this vaccine."
Pneumonia susceptibility begins to rise at age 50, but the current vaccine approved for adults--Merck's Pneumovax--is only approved for those over age 60. Pneumovax also loses efficacy over time. According to Pfizer's study, patients treated with Prevnar-13 had higher antibody counts in their blood than those who received Pneumovax, but Prevnar-13 doesn't provide protection against 10 strains of pneumonia that Pneumovax covers. A second study showed that Prevnar-13 did stimulate an immune response in adults ages 50 to 59.
Prevnar-13 already generates healthy sales for Pfizer, but analysts estimate that an adult approval could push the vaccine to $6 billion in annual sales. "Looking at the data I think it's promising and intriguing to see those kinds of results and that would suggest there may be some advantage in adults which has been hard to show up until now," says Kenneth Bromberg, Director of the Vaccine Research Center at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York, told Forbes.
Interview: Pfizer vaccine unit eyes adults, infectious disease