Prevnar 13 approved for adults over 50 in Europe

Pfizer Inc.'s vaccine against dangerous bacterial infections has been approved in Europe for use in adults age 50 and older, the drugmaker announced on Thursday.
Pfizer's Prevnar 13 vaccine, known Prevenar 13 outside of the United States, protects against 13 strains of pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, life-threatening infections of the brain, blood and spinal cord, as well as ear infections in children, the Associated Press reports.
Pneumococcal infections are increasingly risky past the age of 50. Prevnar 13 is the world's top-selling vaccine, with approximately $3.7 billion in annual sales for Prevnar 13 and an earlier seven strain version.
The vaccine had already been approved for children in more than 100 countries and for adults under the age of 50 in Europe. Pfizer, which is based in New York, is awaiting U.S. approval for use in adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated two to five million cases of pneumonia and 500,000 pneumonia-related hospitalizations occur in the United States alone. Transmission of the bacterial disease occurs through person-to-person respiratory secretions. Pneumonia is in the same family of diseases as pharyngitis, laryngitis and sinusitis.
While all ages are at risk for the bacterial infection, pneumonia most frequently occurs in school age children. In the United States, approximately 50 percent of adults have evidence of past infection by age 20.