Prevnar 13, the blockbuster vaccine of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), has recently received the approval of the World Health Organization (WHO) with a new formulation of a four-dose vial. The pneumococcal vaccine comes with a reduced cost of $3.10 a dose, allowing developing countries to gain access to it as soon as 2017.
The new formula contains 2-phenoxyethanol, which can be used for 28 days following the first employment. Accordingly, this will lead to a 75% reduction in storage and shipping expenses.
WHO expressing its support for Prevnar 13 sustains the pneumococcal vaccine’s place in the market. In 2015, global sales for Prevnar 13 reached a whopping $6.20 billion. For the year, Prevnar 13 sales jumped more than 40%.
It is also very timely as Pfizer continues to be challenged by complaints regarding its pricing. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), one of Pfizer’s nemeses in the ensuing pricing issue, claimed that about 5,000 refugee children purchased pneumonia vaccines worth $68 each recently during its vaccination campaign in Greece. The group aims to counter 10 major diseases including pneumonia by providing multiple vaccines to children. MSF is calling the drugmaker to offer Prevnar 13 in developing countries at a flat $5 per three doses instead of $3.10 per dose or $9.30 per three doses.
Prevnar received its approval to include teens and adults in its indication from the US Food and Drug Administration last week. Now, people aged 18 to 49 years old can get the vaccine together with the elderly aged 50 and above. The approval makes Prevnar 13 the only pneumococcal vaccine for those aged 18 years old and above.
In other news, Pfizer is expanding its Grange Castle manufacturing unit in Ireland with a five-story plant, offering more than 300 employment opportunities. Upon completion, the Grange-Castle-based unit will house nearly 1,500 employees.
The expansion will commence in two phases, completion of the first one of which will create 200 new jobs. By the fulfillment of the second phase, more than 100 jobs are expected.