January 22, 2009 / 5:57 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-EU experts back new Glaxo pneumococcal vaccine

(Adds detail on Wyeth’s rival product, background)

LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s (GSK.L) new childhood vaccine Synflorix for preventing pneumococcal disease has been recommended for sale in Europe.

The European Medicines Agency said on Thursday its experts had backed use of the vaccine in infants and children from 6 weeks up to two years of age.

Recommendations from the European Medicines Agency are normally endorsed by the European Commission within a couple of months.

The green light sets the scene for a battle with Wyeth’s WYE.N blockbuster Prevnar, which had sales of $2.4 billion in 2007.

Glaxo’s new vaccine, which has not yet been submitted in the United States, is designed to offer protection against both invasive pneumococcal disease and bacterial respiratory infections such as acute middle ear infections.

It is active against 10 types of streptococcus pneumoniae, compared with seven strains for Prevnar.

But Wyeth also has an improved version of Prevnar, active against 13 strains, which was submitted for approval in Europe last month.

Pneumococcal disease covers a number of illnesses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, including meningitis, sepsis, pneumonia and otitis media. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by David Cowell)

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