The top 5 vaccine makers by 2014 revenue

2014 sales: $4.48 billion

Pfizer's ($PFE) vaccines unit has undergone quite a transformation in the last year, with three M&A moves, steps forward for internal candidates and its recent announcement that it's taking a "comprehensive" approach to the industry.

All of the moves are part of a larger effort to broaden the company's vaccine business behind the world's best-selling jab, Prevnar 13, which raked in $4.29 billion in 2014 sales and is anticipated to grow to $5.83 billion in sales by 2020.

In July, company execs briefed media on a vision of Pfizer's vaccines approach and an effort to dedicate research on a range of conditions ranging from birth to old age. And, though it's working to lessen its Prevnar 13 dependance, the New York City-based pharma has several efforts underway to broaden that vaccine's reach, such as a recent acknowledgment by regulators that it can undergo a one-time three-day journey unrefrigerated up to 100 degrees to increase access for remote countries.

"We're going to be moving vaccinations from something an infant has to endure to one that people will be looking for to foster health and welfare," vaccines president Susan Silbermann told reporters at the July briefing.

In development at the pharma's vaccines unit are a cancer vaccine platform--first focusing on prostate cancer but with the potential for "large number of important cancers"--a human cytomegalovirus candidate, a cholesterol-fighting jab, vaccines each for S. aureus and C. difficile and others. To add to that, the company late last year won FDA approval for its meningitis B vaccine Trumenba, beating out Novartis' Bexsero and winning the two-horse race for the first approved meningitis B vaccine in the U.S.

It hasn't shied away from M&A, either: Since last July, the company has inked deals to purchase Baxter's ($BAX) marketed vaccines portfolio, Switzerland's Redvax and two meningitis vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

Pfizer was able to grow vaccine revenues 13% over the year from $3.97 billion in 2013 to $4.48 billion in 2014, landing in the No. 4 spot. The company doesn't plan to stay there for long, though, as it has been predicted to shoot to the No. 2 in 5 years with $7.44 billion in 2020 sales.

--Eric Sagonowsky

For more:
Pfizer talks up 'comprehensive' vaccines business
Pfizer brings S. aureus jab to PhIIb as it keeps the gas on vaccines expansion
More vaccines deals for Pfizer? It wouldn't say no, exec says
GSK nabs pipeline prospects, conjugate vaccine tech with GlycoVaxyn buyout
Pfizer wins recommendation for Prevenar expansion in Europe
Pfizer's growth spurt continues with pickup of Switzerland's Redvax
Pfizer finally lands vaccines bulk-up with $635M Baxter buy