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Pfizer’s Vaccine Prevents Pneumonia in Seniors

Update Date: Feb 24, 2014 04:11 PM EST

In one of the largest drug trials to ever be conducted, Pfizer reported that its immunization drug, Prevnar 13 was capable of preventing pneumonia in seniors aged 65 and over. Prevnar 13 is a vaccine that was originally created to protect infants and young children and now, it might also be available for older patients.

"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 Emilio A. Emini, Pfizer's senior vice president of vaccine research and development reported by the Wall Street Journal.

For this drug trial known as CAPiTA, 85,000 patients were recruited. According to the researchers, the drug met the primary goal of preventing the first instance of pneumonia spread within a community. The drug also met its second goal, which was to prevent the first instance of invasive bloodstream infections. Invasive bloodstream infections are more fatal. The findings are promising and experts believe that Prevnar 13 could be in high demand within the near future. CAPiTA was conducted in the Netherlands.

"We expect the U.S. and other developed markets to broadly recommend adult use of the product," J.P. Morgan analyst Chris Schott said reported by Reuters.

Analysts believe that this trial could boost the yearly sales of Prevnar 13 from $300 million in 2015 to over $1 billion in the future. Currently, Prevnar 13 is sold as Prevenar 13 in several markets outside of the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had originally approved Prevnar 13 for children in 2010. The drug's purpose is to protect children from strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria that could lead to other diseases, such as pneumonia, meningitis and ear infections. In 2011, the FDA agreed to widen the use of Prevnar 13 for people aged 50 and above. However, the approval at the time was conditioned based on the results of CAPiTA.

Researchers plan on presenting the results from the drug trial next month.

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