Pneumonia vaccine found safe for those over 50

In two clinical trials by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Prevnar 13, its pneumonia vaccine, was found to be effective for patients ages 50 and up.

The vaccine met all study endpoints, and Pfizer found that Prevnar 13 is able to produce an immune response that is at least as effective as the currently approved non-conjugated pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, Medical News Today reports.

In addition, the studies also found that Prevnar 13 elicited a higher functional antibody response than PPSV against most serotypes common to both vaccines and serotype 6A, which is not contained in PPSV.

"Both pivotal studies met their primary objectives and demonstrated that Prevnar 13 was at least as immunogenic to PPSV for the 12 disease-causing serotypes common to both vaccines,” Lisa A. Jackson, a principal investigator from the Group Health Research Institute, said, according to Medical News Today. “The data also showed that Prevnar 13 induced significantly higher levels of functional antibodies than PPSV in the adults studied for the majority of the common serotypes."

Prevnar 13 has already been approved for use in infants and children up to six years of age in more than 90 nations around the world.

"Prevnar 13 represents an important scientific achievement and we are excited about the potential to further define its clinical utility with the aim of broadening pneumococcal disease prevention efforts,” Emilio Emini, the chief scientific officer of vaccine research at Pfizer, Inc., said, Medical News Today reports. “Adults 50 years and older are a population at heightened risk for pneumococcal disease, which imposes a significant public health and economic burden worldwide."

Pfizer expects the FDA to make a decision on Prevnar 13 for older adults in October.

Approximately 50,000 Americans die from pneumonia and invasive infections of pneumococcal bacteria in the bloodstream each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.