Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co. is seeking emergency-use authorization to provide its antibody drug to high-risk patients with mild or moderate cases of covid-19 in the United States.
The Eli Lilly antibody drug is aimed at treating patients who are not yet hospitalized, to help prevent severe cases of the disease. It is the same class of medicine as the experimental treatment that was given to President Trump. Trump was treated with an experimental drug made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which is also in discussions with regulators to see if its data merits an emergency-use authorization that could make it available outside a clinical trial.
The company has not published data yet, but it announced the results of a combination therapy of two monoclonal antibodies and a single monoclonal antibody alone. According to the company, the drugs reduced the amount of virus in people’s noses, decreased symptoms and prevented visits to emergency rooms or hospitals, although there were small numbers of those follow-up medical visits for both patients who received the drug and those who got a placebo.
Any treatment to prevent moderate or mild disease from becoming worse could be transformative in the pandemic, but these medicines will be in short supply, creating difficult questions about how to prioritize the drug.
There were more than 300,000 cases of covid-19 in the last week in the United States. Eli Lilly has projected having 100,000 doses available in October, and as many as 1 million doses by the end of the year.