The good and bad news about coronavirus antibody therapies
Antibody treatments are showing promise as an important tool against the coronavirus, but there aren't going to be a lot of them at first and they could also come with hefty price tags.
Driving the news: Regeneron announced on Wednesday that its antibody cocktail reduced infected patients’ need to visit the doctor or go to the hospital by 57% — but there are only 50,000 doses available right now, Stat reports.
- The treatment is given early on in the course of the disease, meaning that it can't be rationed for only the sickest patients.
- The company is ramping up production and expects to be able to produce 300,000 doses in the coming months.
- Eli Lilly has said that it could ship 100,000 doses of its single antibody if it's cleared by regulators, and could produce up to a million doses by the end of the year.
Between the lines: Lilly has agreed to provide 300,000 doses of its antibody to the federal government, which plans to distribute them at no cost.
- However, the therapy is given by intravenous infusion, which can cost well over $1,000, NPR reports. Insured patients could end up on the hook for hundreds of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.
- That means that infected patients — of which only a small percentage require hospitalization — will have to decide whether it's worth getting the treatment, and possibly an expensive bill, in order to reduce the risk of future hospitalization from the virus.