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New Vaccine against Invasive Pneumococcal Disease in Adults

Based on Pfizer Press Release 8 November 2011

Doctors in the UK now have a new option to protect adults at risk of pneumococcal disease, which can result in potentially fatal illnesses such as bacteraemic pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning). Prevenar 13®(Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Conjugate Vaccine [13-valent, Adsorbed]) is available for active immunisation for the prevention of invasive disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, in adults aged 50 years and older.

Prevenar 13® (PVC13) is the first and only pneumococcal conjugate vaccine to be approved for use in adults aged from 50 years and the decision was based on the results of six Phase III clinical trials involving more than 6,000 adults. Moreover, conjugate vaccines mark an evolution in vaccine development technology and are believed to offer long-term prevention and superior immune response.

Since 2006, pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have been available on the UK childhood immunisation programme and are indicated for the prevention of invasive disease, pneumonia and acute otitis media (middle ear infection) caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in children aged from six weeks to five years old. As a result, there has been a significant decrease in the number of cases in children, reducing preventable illness, disability and death.

The rate of infection in adults increases from the age of 50, and for those over 65 it is at a level similar to that seen in children under two prior to routine immunisation. Therefore, this development marks an important step forward and allows for a new approach to the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease in older adults.

Commenting on the new indication, Dr George Kassianos, GP and immunisation lead for the Royal College of GPs and the British Travel Health Association, said: “Making Prevenar 13® available for the protection of adults aged 50 years and over is an important achievement and step forward. Since its introduction onto the childhood immunisation programme five years ago, we have witnessed a significant decrease in the rate of infection. Yet, there still remains a burden of adult invasive pneumococcal disease with, sadly, significant mortality. As our adult population increases, so does our need for effective, long-term disease prevention. This new option will help to protect those most at risk and has the potential to reduce the overall burden of disease within our communities.”

Pneumococcal disease is the term given to a number of illnesses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. Normally, the pneumococcal bacteria live harmlessly in the nose or throat without causing disease, but can lead to non-invasive pneumococcal disease (respiratory, ear, or nose infections) or invasive pneumococcal disease (bacteraemic pneumonia, meningitis or septicaemia).

Invasive pneumococcal disease in adults can be serious and potentially fatal and approximately eight in ten (80%) cases in adults are bacteraemic pneumonia. Adults most at risk are those aged 50 years and over, those who have weakened immune systems as a result of underlying health conditions, such as chronic heart, liver or kidney disease, or those who receive treatments that suppress the immune system, such as in HIV and chronic respiratory disease such as severe asthma. As the population of the UK is getting older, it is becoming increasingly important to find ways of preventing diseases in these groups.

Until now, adults over the age of 65 and those in clinical risk groups have been offered the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV). However, in clinical trials, people given PCV13 had significantly higher antibody responses (compared with those given PPV), to the majority of the common serotypes (strains) present in both vaccines.

The 5-Year Heritage of the Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine

The advent of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine onto the UK childhood immunisation programme five years ago is a great success story in the value of vaccination against preventable diseases. Since its introduction there has been a 56% decline in the number of cases of invasive pneumococcal disease in children under two and a reduction of around 2,800 hospital admissions in children under five in England and Wales. This means the deaths of around 140 children have been prevented and hundreds more saved from the devastating effects of the illness.

cover pictureA new brochure, All Grown Up: Telling the story of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in the UK, initiated and funded by Pfizer Ltd, with the support of several patient organisations, including the British Lung Foundation and Meningitis Trust, government and healthcare professionals, celebrates this significant milestone in UK healthcare. Including quotes and commentary from leading experts and political leaders in prevention of diseases, the document looks at the ongoing burden of pneumococcal disease on society, and calls for further efforts to address the devastating impact the disease can have on peoples’ lives.

Click here to read the brochure. (PDF, 2.9 MB)

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