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Pfizer’s Best-Selling Pneumonia Vaccine Approved For Expanded Use


The FDA recently awarded approval to Pfizer Inc. for their most popular pneumonia vaccine, Prevnar 13, to be indicated for adults age 18 through 49. The vaccine already had approval for ages 50 and older, along with children from 6 weeks of age through 17 years. Prevnar 13 immunizes against 13 different strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes, specifically 1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19A, 19F, and 23F. In 2015 alone, sales from the Prevnar line of products grossed Pfizer an additional $6.25 billion. That figure represents a 40 percent jump from the previous year. The expansion of the effective age range of the vaccine is sure to further boost sales for the company.

The decision to expand the effective age range for the vaccine will not only reduce the rate of pneumonia in the general population, but it will increase the number of immunized patients through every demographic. The vaccine is even approved for use in those with certain immunocompromising conditions, so it can help protect those who are most at risk for infection.

The vaccine was approved for its new expanded protocol in light of a testing trial which compared the effect of Prevnar 13 on adults between 18 and 49 with the effects on those who were 60 through 64. Since the vaccine was already approved for the older age group, the comparison proved vital for the FDA’s decision to recommend the vaccine for the additional age group. The study was performed in an open-label, 3-phase style and was first published in October of 2015.

Community-acquired pneumonia is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection of pneumococcus. The disease can either be invasive, where the bacteria enter the bloodstream and reach other areas of the body, or it can be non-invasive, where the bacteria stay in the lungs without entering the blood. Invasive forms of the condition are typically more severe in their scope, but non-invasive forms are significantly more common.

About the Vaccine

Prevnar 13 is a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine with a polysaccharide base. It was first introduced to the medical community in 2009 when it was approved for use in the European Union. The vaccine was first recommended for younger children and infants, and it is one of several immunizations given to children within the first few years of life. The vaccine is distributed to over 100 countries and is on the National Immunization Programs list of approved vaccines. It is safe enough to give to premature infants.

The vaccine is also approved for use in adults over the age of 50 in over 100 countries. With the recent decision by the FDA to expand the age range for the vaccine, it is now recommended for adults between 18 and 49 years old in nearly 50 countries. It is important to note the vaccine is not 100 percent effective at preventing pneumonia since there are other strains of the bacteria that can cause the condition. The vaccine’s protection is limited to the 13 strains of pneumococcus including 1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19A, 19F, and 23F.

Safety Info

If you are allergic to any diphtheria toxoids, you should not take Prevnar 13, as it contains these substances as part of the immunization material. If you take Prevnar 13 while experiencing a secondary illness that causes a reduced immune response, you may not respond properly to the vaccine. In certain cases, it is possible for the immune response elicited by Prevnar 13 to be weakened when the vaccine is administered alongside a flu vaccine.

The most common side effects of Prevnar 13 are swelling at the site of injection, along with redness and slight pain. Some of the more serious side effects include headache, fatigue, vomiting, chills, rash, joint pain, or reduced arm movement. The vaccine has been known to cause a temporary breathing pause in premature infants.

About Pfizer

Pfizer is a top-tier manufacturer of premium therapies that help improve the quality of life in patients. They are responsible for some of the most well-known vaccines and medications in existence, and they have a huge portfolio of other consumer-based health care items. They work diligently to develop advanced medicines and cures for the worst diseases and conditions known to man. The company has over 150 years of experience in the field, and they hope to continue making a difference as one of the premier pharmaceutical companies on the planet. They work with organizations of all sizes, from government entities to private health care facilities, in the hopes of bringing the most comprehensive and affordable treatment options possible to any patient that needs them.