Merck’s pneumococcal vaccine gets CDC panel backing

Dive Brief:

  • Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday unanimously recommended Merck & Co.’s recently approved pneumococcal vaccine for use in adults aged 65 years and older and in younger adults with certain health conditions who haven’t previously received a shot.
  • The recommendation puts Merck’s vaccine, called Capvaxive, in the same bucket as Pfizer’s Prevnar 20 shot and Merck’s earlier pneumococcal products Vaxneuvance and Pneumovax. Capvaxive was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumonia.
  • Pfizer’s Prevnar franchise has long been dominant in the pneumococcal market. Merck hopes to compete with Vaxneuvance and Capvaxive, although it’s not clear how much share it might yet win.

Dive Insight:

Pneumococcal disease can lead to severe infections in the lungs such as pneumonia or meningitis. Older adults and people with certain health conditions are at higher risk of disease.

Capvaxive is Merck’s latest entrant in the pneumococcal vaccine market and offers broad coverage against 21 types of the bacteria that causes pneumococcal disease. Eight of those serotypes are not covered by other shots.

The CDC panel specifically voted to recommend a single Capvaxive dose in adults older than 65 with no prior pneumococcal vaccination or whose vaccination history is unknown. Adults aged 19 to 64 years old who have certain underlying health conditions and no previous record of receiving a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine can also receive the shot, the advisers indicated.

The panel postponed discussion of lowering the age-based recommendation for pneumococcal vaccination to 50 from 65, however. They expect to take that question up at an October meeting.

“When they pick this decision back up in October, we believe the committee will lower the age for vaccination to 50 and recommend both Capvaxive and Prevnar 20,” wrote Leerink Partners analyst Daina Graybosch in a note to clients. “This, as in the current market, will put the companies on equal footing and put Capvaxive sales in the hands of Merck’s commercial organization.”

Another pneumococcal vaccine developer, Vaxcyte, predicts substantial growth in the overall market, forecasts annual sales to reach about $13 billion by 2027, up from $8 billion today.

Total sales for Merck’s Vaxneuvance and Pneumovax 23 totaled over $1 billion in 2023. Pfizer’s Prevnar franchise generated over $6 billion in sales.

Merck previously said Capvaxive would be available as soon as late July.

This post has been syndicated from a third-party source. View the original article here.

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