Study: Pneumonia Vaccine Effective in Adults Over 65

In one of the largest vaccine trials ever, Pfizer has reported that its pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13 is effective at preventing the condition in elderly people.

Next month, Pfizer will spill the beans on its Community-Acquired Pneumonia Immunization Trial in Adults (CAPiTA) study, which tested the vaccine’s efficacy. The study encompassed about 85,000 people over the age of 65 to see how well the vaccine works. The results, researchers say, are promising.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62.3 percent of adults over 65 have never had a pneumonia vaccine. In 2010, there were 1.1 million people discharged from hospitals who had the condition, and they stayed an average of 5.2 days at medical centers.

An estimated 300,000 adults aged 50 and older are hospitalized every year because of pneumococcal pneumonia, a substantial cause of illness and death, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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Vaccine Effective in Older Adults

The main goal of the study was to see how well Prevnar 13 works against a first episode of vaccine-type community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). It also was effective against a first episode of non-bacteremic/non-invasive vaccine-type CAP, or VT-CAP, and a first episode of vaccine-type invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). The study is the largest double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of a vaccine ever conducted in adults.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the CAPiTA study, which demonstrated that Prevnar 13 can prevent vaccine-type pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia in adults,” Dr. William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research, said in a press release.

What is Prevnar 13?

In 2009, the vaccine was introduced for use in infants and young children in Europe. It's now allowed in more than 120 countries across the globe. Prevnar 13 is approved for use in adults 50 years of age and older in more than 90 countries, and is also approved in the U.S. and European Union (EU) for use in older children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years.

Prevnar 13 was licensed by the FDA under an accelerated approval process to address an unmet medical need in older adults. As a requirement of the accelerated approval pathway, Pfizer conducted CAPiTA to verify clinical benefit.

Prevnar 13 is also known as Prevenar 13, its name in many overseas markets.

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What Does This Mean?

The announcement means that there hopefully will be fewer cases of pneumonia since adults can be effectively protected from it.

“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,” Dr. Emilio A. Emini, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine research and development, said. “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 Prevnar 13 label and recommendation updates.”

Information on the study will be presented on March 12 at the 9th International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases in Hyderabad, India.

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