Pfizer Inc announced Monday that its childhood infection vaccine Prevnar 13 works in preventing pneumonia outside of hospitals in those aged 65 and older.
To come to its conclusion, Pfizer used an 85,000-patient (adults 65 years of age and older) study called CAPiTA, the results of which indicated that Prevnar 13 prevented invasive pneumococcal disease, or infections of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria in the bloodstream and other parts in the body that are normally sterile.
"We are pleased with the outcome of the CAPiTA study, which demonstrated that Prevenar 13 can prevent vaccine-type pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia in adults," said Pfizer SVP (vaccine clinical research) Dr. William Gruber.
"We expect the U.S. and other developed markets to broadly recommend adult use of the product, given favorable results from the study," J. P. Morgan analyst Chris Schott said in a research note.
The news means that the number of adults vaccinated against pneumococcus bacteria could increase dramatically. The Food and Drug Administration approved Prevnar 13, as well as an older vaccine from Merck, for this purpose but use of the vaccines was limited so far due to a lack of proof of their capabilities.
Predictions from Wall Street analysts have been that a successful trial would boost Prevnar 13's annual sales by at least $1 billion, as a result of doctors recommending the product for elderly patients. It is also expected that favorable data from the study will be added to the package insert label of the drug.
Schott predicts Prevnar 13 sales of $300 million among adults in 2015, ascending to $1.5 billion in years to come as the vaccine is more widely used. Sanford Bernstein & Co. analyst Tim Anderson said few adults have yet to be vaccinated with the drug. He estimated that, by 2020, adult sales will rise to $1.3 billion, while total sales of the Prevnar franchise will rise to $6 billion.
Prevnar 13 is one of Pfizer's largest products. The vaccine, and an older version of the drug known as Prevnar 7, generate annual sales of $4.4 billion, which make them the company's second-largest franchise.
Full data from the Prevnar 13 study will be presented on March 12 at the 9th International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases (ISPPD) in Hyderabad, India. That data should provide a broader indication of the impact of the vaccine. Information such as whether the vaccine improved survival for the tested patients has yet to be revealed.
"Pneumococcal pneumonia is a significant cause of illness and death in adults around the world, and the potential to reduce the burden of this disease through direct vaccination of adults represents a meaningful public health benefit," said Dr. Emilio A. Emini, senior vice president, Vaccine Research and Development, Pfizer. "Pfizer looks forward to sharing the CAPiTA data with U.S. and worldwide regulatory authorities, and vaccine technical committees, to help inform decisions regarding potential Prevenar 13 label and recommendation updates."
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 500,000 adults aged 50 and over, are hospitalized each year because of pneumococcal pneumonia.
Shares of Pfizer were trading 1.84 percent up at $32.04 on the NYSE on Monday afternoon.