New Pneumonia, Meningitis Vaccine Approved In U.S.; Pfizer, GAVI Will Lower Price In Developing Countries

The FDA approved Prevnar 13 – a “new version of a blockbuster vaccine that fights pneumonia, meningitis and other infections” – for use in children up to age 5 in the U.S., Reuters reports (Richwine, 2/24).

Such infections cause the deaths of an estimated one million children in developing countries and “dozens of deaths” in the U.S. each year, according to health officials, New York Times reports. “Prevnar 13, from the drug giant Pfizer, adds protection against six types of bacteria to a current product, Prevnar 7, increasing its coverage to more than 90 percent of pneumococcal disease rather than the current product’s 80 percent coverage,” the newspaper writes (Wilson, 2/25).

A clinical trial evaluating the safety of Prevnar 13 included “5,084 infants and children; the control group was an additional 2,760 who received the original Prevnar,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “The common adverse reactions were pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, irritability, fever and decreased appetite – all common in those who received the original Prevnar and most other vaccines” (Maugh, 2/25).

According to the New York Times, “Pfizer plans to expand the childhood vaccine usage in other markets, including developing countries, through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, at a much lower price, [Geno] Germano, [president of Pfizer’s specialty care unit] said” (2/25).

A Pfizer press release notes that, “pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death worldwide in children younger than 5 years,” according to a 2002 WHO estimate (2/24).

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