The US will begin distributing Eli Lilly and Co’s COVID-19 antibody treatment from this week to state health departments, informed Alex Azar, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary.
“Early treatment may help people avoid disease progression and avoid hospitalisation,” Janet Woodcock, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said.
The FDA has given EUA to Lilly’s antibody for anyone over age 65 who is recently diagnosed with mild-to-moderate COVID-19, and for patients age 12 and older who have an underlying health condition putting them at risk for serious illness. The agency said the treatment should not be used in patients already hospitalised with COVID-19.
HHS will distribute the drug, bamlanivimab, using a system developed over the summer to allocate supplies of remdesivir, an antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences, which is approved for use in hospitalised COVID-19 patients.
Bamlanivimab allocations to states and territories will be based on their number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients and the number of overall cases, government officials said on the HHS call.
Woodcock explained that some states may have more people with underlying risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes. “Those are the people we are trying to target,” she said.
A one-time infusion of bamlanivimab has been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization and emergency room visits.
The US has purchased 300,000 doses of the treatment for this year and has an option to buy an additional 650,000 doses next year.
AmerisourceBergen Corp will initially deliver the biotech drug to hospitals, but the aim is to widen distribution to outpatient infusion centres.
(Edits by EP News Bureau)