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Pfizer's Prevnar 13 Backed by U.S. Panel for Expanded Use

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Prevnar 13 (a vaccine for the prevention of pneumococcal disease) is one of the most important products in Pfizer’s (PFE - Free Report) portfolio. The vaccine performed impressively in the second quarter of 2014 with sales being positively impacted by government purchasing patterns and higher demand.

Pfizer received some more encouraging news on Prevnar 13 earlier in the week with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommending the routine use of the vaccine in patients aged 65 years and above for the prevention of pneumococcal disease including pneumonia caused by the 13 pneumococcal serotypes contained in the vaccine. The panel is in favor of the reevaluation of its above recommendation in 2018.

Specifically, the advisory panel recommended immunization by a dose of Prevnar 13, followed by a dose of Merck’s (MRK - Free Report) Pneumovax 23 in elders who have not received pneumococcal vaccine before. This recommendation is also applicable for patients whose history of vaccination is not known. The panel also recommended the use of Prevnar 13 in patients who have already received at least one dose of Merck’s vaccine.

Pfizer stated in its press release that the advisory panel’s recommendations will be forwarded to the director of the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review and subsequent approval. We note that Prevnar 13 is already available for use in younger patients. Approval in patients aged 65 and above would further increase the drug’s sales potential.

Pfizer is looking to strengthen its vaccines portfolio. To that end, the pharmaceutical behemoth inked a deal with Baxter International (BAX - Free Report) last month to buy the latter’s portfolio of marketed vaccines. (Read: Baxter International Falls as Pfizer Acquires Vaccines)

Pfizer carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked large cap pharma stock is AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) which holds a Zacks Rank # 2 (Buy).

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