Feb 9, 2021 - Health

FDA grants emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly COVID antibody drug

In this photo illustration, the Eli Lilly and Company, Pharmaceutical company logo seen displayed on a smartphone.

Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The FDA announced Tuesday it has issued an emergency use authorization for a new combination antibody drug from Eli Lilly that can treat mild to moderate COVID-19.

Why it matters: The treatment contains bamlanivimab and etesevimab which, administered together, can reduce the risk of hospitalizations and death by 70%, per an FDA statement. It can be used on patients at high risk of developing severe illnesses.

  • With the risk of resistance emerging as new virus strains arise, "bamlanivimab and etesevimab together could potentially allow efficacy against a broader range of naturally occurring" variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, said Lilly chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky in a statement.

For the record: In November, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for Lilly's antibody therapy bamlanivimab to treat mild to moderate coronavirus cases.

  • Skovronsky, who's also president of Lilly Research Laboratories, said in Tuesday's statement that bamlanivimab "alone under emergency use authorization has already provided many people with an early treatment option that could prevent hospitalizations."

By the numbers: Lilly has in the first quarter of 2021 manufactured more than 250,000 doses of the combination treatment, which is given via a single intravenous infusion.

  • The company plans to produce up to 1 million more by the middle of the year, per Lilly's statement.
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