MADISON, N.J., March 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the pharmaceutical division of Wyeth , announced today that three vaccine scientists, Drs. Ron Eby, Velupillai Puvanesarajah and Dace Madore, have been awarded the prestigious Discoverers Award from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) for the development of Prevnar(R), Pneumococcal 7-valent Conjugate Vaccine (Diphtheria CRM197 Protein), the first conjugate vaccine to help prevent invasive pneumococcal disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae in infants and children up to the age of two. The scientists accepted the award at PhRMA's Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
Each year, PhRMA presents the Discoverers Award to scientists whose research and development efforts have greatly benefited humankind and whose dedication and interest in improving the quality of life exemplify the best in the research-based pharmaceutical industry. Drs. Eby, Puvanesarajah and Madore were selected this year for their pioneering work in the discovery and development of Prevnar(R).
"The Discoverers Award is one of the most prestigious awards within the pharmaceutical industry. Prevnar(R), a dramatic example of the power of prevention that can be achieved through vaccination, is certainly worthy of this honor," says Robert R. Ruffolo, Jr., Ph.D., President, Wyeth Research and Senior Vice President, Wyeth. "While it is recognized that many scientists contributed ideas and skills to the Prevnar(R) program, the efforts of these three scientists stood out and significantly impacted the successful development of Prevnar(R)."
Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus, is responsible for more than one million deaths worldwide in children under the age of five, especially in developing countries. In the U.S., prior to the introduction of Prevnar(R), pneumococcus was a leading cause of childhood meningitis, bacteremia, pneumonia and acute otitis media. In addition, the most prevalent strains were becoming antibiotic resistant.
Since the introduction of Prevnar(R) into routine use in infants in 2000, more than 65 million doses have been distributed in the U.S., and the public health impact has been dramatic. One year after vaccine licensure, core surveillance sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted a 78 percent reduction in cases of invasive pneumococcal disease caused by vaccine serotypes in children younger than two years. In 1998, the rate of invasive pneumococcal disease in children younger than two years of age was estimated to be 188 cases per 100,000 population. Data from 2002 indicate that rates of invasive disease have declined 70 percent to 80 percent in this age group.
The scientists being honored developed a vaccine that is actually seven different vaccines combined to prevent the majority of invasive pneumococcal disease in children. Each component is made using a novel, patented conjugation technology that allows the vaccine to work in infants as young as two months of age. It is the only vaccine of its kind in the world. In 2003 these scientists were honored with the Heroes of Chemistry award from the American Chemical Society, and Prevnar(R) has also received the prestigious Prix Galien award in the UK, Switzerland and France.
Prevnar(R) is indicated for active immunization of infants and toddlers against invasive disease caused by S. pneumoniae due to the capsular serotypes included in the vaccine. The routine schedule is 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age.
Risks are associated with all vaccines, including Prevnar(R). Hypersensitivity to any vaccine component, including diphtheria toxoid, is a contraindication to its use. Prevnar(R) does not provide 100 percent protection of children vaccinated. Please see Prescribing Information found at http://www.prevnar.com/.
About Wyeth Pharmaceuticals
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth , has leading products in the areas of women's health care, cardiovascular disease, central nervous system, inflammation, hemophilia, oncology and vaccines. Wyeth is one of the world's largest research-driven pharmaceutical and health care products companies. It is a leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing, and marketing of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biotechnology products and nonprescription medicines that improve the quality of life for people worldwide. The Company's major divisions include Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare and Fort Dodge Animal Health.