World Health Organization makes Prevnar 13 available to Adults 50+

Nov 20, 2012, 08:00 ET from PFIZER CANADA INC.

Decision Allows for Broader Access to Vaccine for the Prevention of Pneumococcal Disease in Adults

KIRKLAND, QC, Nov. 20, 2012 /CNW/ - Pfizer Canada announced today that the World Health Organization (WHO) has granted an expansion to the prequalification of Pfizer's pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Prevnar 13, to include immunization of adults 50 years of age and older against pneumonia and invasive disease caused by the 13 pneumococcal serotypes (1, 3, 4, 5, 6A, 6B, 7F, 9V, 14, 18C, 19A, 19F and 23F) contained in the vaccine. On the heels of the World Health Organization announcement, Pfizer celebrates another important achievement as last month's shipment of Prevnar 13 reached the 500 millionth dose mark - a historic milestone in Pfizer's fight against pneumococcal disease.

In August 2010, the World Health Organization prequalified Prevnar 13 for immunization of infants and children from six weeks through five years of age against invasive pneumococcal disease, pneumonia and otitis media.

Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) can present some serious health risks for older adults, especially those who have underlying medical conditions such as heart, lung, liver or kidney disease, smokers1 or those who have diabetes.2  Approximately eight out of 10 cases occur in these high-risk groups.3 In Canada, the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease in adults, especially the elderly, has remained high ranging from 23 per 100,000 to 29.4 per 100,000.4

According to a 2002 WHO estimate, pneumococcal disease causes approximately 1.6 million deaths worldwide per year, mostly in infants and the elderly.5 Age is a primary risk factor for pneumococcal disease,6 and as the world's population ages, the number of people at risk for pneumococcal disease grows.  Prevnar® 13 is a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine approved for adults 50 years of age and older in Canada.7,8  

"Immunization is regarded as one of the most important public health milestones of the 20th century9 and Pfizer is committed to reducing the incidence of serious diseases around the world," says John Helou, President of Pfizer Canada Inc.  "Prevnar 13 has a long history of providing protection against pneumococcal disease and is now part of national immunization programs in more than 60 countries."

In addition to Canada, Prevnar 13 is approved for immunization against pneumococcal disease in adults 50 years of age and older in more than 70 countries, including the United States, the European Union, Australia, Mexico, India, Russia, Singapore and Turkey.


Pneumococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, which can infect people of all ages, although young children, older adults and individuals with certain chronic medical conditions are at an increased risk of infection. IPD occurs when bacteria invade parts of the body, such as the blood or spinal fluid, which are normally free from bacteria.10

While less common than non-invasive pneumococcal disease, IPD is usually more severe, and it results in significant morbidity and mortality in older adults.  It includes bacteremic pneumonia (lung inflammation with bacteria in the blood), bacteremia (bacteria in the blood) and meningitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord). 11

Increased risk factors for invasive pneumococcal disease include older age, underlying chronic conditions, including chronic lung diseases, chronic heart disease, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, diabetes, alcoholism and cigarette use, immunosuppressive conditions including HIV infection, hematologic malignancies, generalized malignancies, solid organ and bone marrow transplant recipients, sickle cell disease, functional or anatomic splenectomy and use of long-term systemic corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs.12


Pfizer Canada Inc. is the Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc.  The company is one of the largest contributors to health research in Canada. Our diversified health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as nutritional products and many of the world's best-known consumer products.

Every day, Pfizer Canada employees work to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. We apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well being of Canadians at every stage of life.

Our commitment is reflected in everything Pfizer does, from our disease awareness initiatives to our community partnerships, to our belief that it takes more than medication to be truly healthy. To learn more about Pfizer's More than Medication philosophy and programs, visit To learn more about Pfizer Canada, visit


4 Prevnar 13 Canadian Product Monograph January 13th, 2012.
5 World Health Organization. Weekly Epidemiological Record. 2008;83(42):373-384.
6 Weinberger B, Herndler-Brandstetter D, Schwanninger A, et al. Biology of immune responses to vaccines in elderly persons. Clin Infect Dis. 2008;46:1078-1084.
7 Prevnar 13 Canadian Product Monograph. Product Monograph January 13th, 2012.
8 Synflorix Product Monograph, Glaxosmithkline, Inc., April 20, 2012.
12 L Jackson and KM Neuzil, Chapter 24 - Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines. In: S. Plotkin. Ed. Vaccines, 5th ed.  2008 Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier