Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. was awarded emergency use authority for its coronavirus antibody therapy, expanding access for a treatment that could help those with mild-to-moderate Covid diagnoses stay out of the hospital.
After being approached last month, the US Food and Drug Administration granted the authority. It has also previously granted similar status to other treatments for more severe cases, including using plasma from recovered patients and Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir.
Health experts are exploring antibody-based treatments as an early step to help patients avoid the kind of serious coronavirus lung damage that lands them in the hospital. They’ve also been discussed as a short-term way to stop people who’ve been exposed to a local outbreak, such as nursing-home attendants, from getting sick.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has said these treatments could be a “bridge” to a vaccine.
“We are focusing very heavily now on treatment of early infection and/or prevention of infection,” Dr. Fauci told the Journal of the American Medical Association in an interview. “And that’s the bridge to the vaccine.”
In late October, the US government agree to pay Lilly $375 million for a 300,000-vial supply of the treatment, delivered over the next two months. Under the terms of the deal, it may also purchase more than double that amount, for a supplying lasting into next summer, at a potential price of $812.5 million, according to Bloomberg News.
In addition to the single-antibody therapy that got approved, the company is also testing a two-antibody cocktail and expects to seek approval for it this month.
Companies like Regeneron, AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc are exploring similar treatments.
Pfizer announced on Monday its potential vaccine had been found to be 90 per cent effective, and could give doses to up to 20 million people by the end of the year.
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