SILVER SPRING, Md., Dec. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Prevnar 13, a pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine, was approved today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people ages 50 years and older to prevent pneumonia and invasive disease caused by the bacterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Pneumococcal pneumonia, caused when the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae infects the lungs, is the most common disease caused by this bacterium in adults. When the bacterium invades parts of the body that are normally free from germs, such as the blood or spinal fluid, the disease is considered "invasive."
"According to recent information for the United States, it is estimated that approximately 300,000 adults 50 years of age and older are hospitalized yearly because of pneumococcal pneumonia," said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "Pneumococcal disease is a substantial cause of illness and death. Today's approval provides an additional vaccine for preventing pneumococcal pneumonia and invasive disease in this age group."
The new use for Prevnar 13 was approved under the agency's accelerated approval pathway, which allows for earlier approval of treatments for serious and life-threatening illnesses. The pathway allows for the demonstration of effectiveness of a vaccine using an immune marker that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit.
In randomized, multi-center studies in the United States and Europe, people 50 and older received either Prevnar 13 or Pneumovax 23, a licensed pneumococcal vaccine also approved for use in this age group. The studies showed that for the 12 common serotypes, Prevnar 13 induced antibody levels that were either comparable to or higher than the levels induced by Pneumovax 23.
The safety of Prevnar 13 was evaluated in about 6,000 p