Eli Lilly in emergency use bid as Trump calls COVID-19 a ‘blessing from God’


Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has applied for emergency use authorisation of an experimental antibodies therapy that is aimed at people with mild or moderate COVID-19.

Eli Lilly, which has offices in 18 countries, said that patients taking a combination of two of its antibodies were almost 85% less likely to be hospitalised or attend the emergency room compared to those taking a placebo.

The announcement came before US President Donald Trump declared his diagnosis with COVID-19 “a blessing from God”.

“They gave me Regeneron …. and other things, too, but I think this was the key, but they gave me Regeneron. And it was like, unbelievable. I felt good.

“I want to get for you what I got. And I’m gonna make it free,” he added.

In multiple studies, Regeneron is testing it both for preventing infection and in people already infected, like Trump, to try to prevent serious illness or death.

Earlier this week, Regeneron said partial results from about 275 COVID-19 patients who were not sick enough to need hospitalisation suggested it might be cutting how long symptoms last and helping reduce the amount of virus patients harbour.

Eli Lilly’s drug is similar to that of Regeneron. These medicines supply concentrated versions of specific antibodies to help the immune system clear the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They’re given as a one-time treatment through an IV.

Most of the drugs presently used to treat COVID-19 are focused on patients who are already hospitalised, including Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir and the generic steroid dexamethasone, which were also taken by Donald Trump.

Daniel Skovronksy, Eli Lilly’s chief scientific officer, said he believed the data, as well as previously announced results for treatment with a single antibody, provided “sufficient evidence” that they could help patients with a high risk for serious outcomes.

“Our teams have worked tirelessly the last seven months to discover and develop these potential antibody treatments,” he said.

Shares in Eli Lilly rose 2.6% to $147.84 in morning trading in New York, as the company said it could deliver up to a million doses of its single antibody therapy in the fourth quarter, while also ramping up production of the combination therapy in the first quarter of next year.

Shares in Regeneron rose more than 7% on Monday after Trump’s doctors revealed over the weekend that he had been given the drug, as investors hoped this was a sign it was heading for an emergency use authorisation.

The drugmaker is now planning an open label study — where patients know they are taking the drug — to collect more data.

The World Health Organization said the past week saw the highest number of reported coronavirus cases in a single week since the coronavirus pandemic began.

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