Regeneron Antibody Drug Temporarily Protects Against Covid-19, Preliminary Data Show
By Joseph Walker
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said its antibody drug reduced
coronavirus infections by half in people at high risk, a
preliminary sign the therapy could be given to temporarily prevent
None of the patients receiving the drug developed symptoms from
the virus, Regeneron said Tuesday, providing an interim analysis of
a continuing study.
Given the drug's performance, Regeneron said it would discuss
the possibility of authorizing the drug as a temporary vaccine with
U.S. regulators. Complete trial data from the study is expected
early in the second quarter, the company said.
Regeneron's data indicate that antibody-based drugs could help
provide temporary protection against Covid-19 as the U.S. and other
countries grapple with limited supplies of vaccines. The drugs are
thought to provide protection for at least one month.
Eli Lilly & Co. said last week that its antibody drug also
prevented many infections in a study of nursing-home patients.
Lilly's antibody drug, named bamlanivimab, and Regeneron's,
called REGEN-COV, are already authorized to treat Covid-19 in
patients who aren't hospitalized.
Uptake of the drugs, which then-President Donald Trump credited
with his recovery from Covid-19, has been scant so far as hospitals
have struggled to set up infusion centers to administer them.
The Regeneron drug is easier to use to prevent new infections
because it can be given as a shot rather than an hourlong
Antibody drugs are lab-made molecules that mimic the natural
antibodies created by the immune system to fight off viruses.
There is some concern that new variants of the coronavirus may
be resistant to some of the drugs, and several companies and
academic groups are working to develop new versions of the
medicines that will work across new variants that emerge.
The data released by Regeneron on Tuesday was from a study of
people at high risk of infection because they shared a household
with someone exposed to the virus. The analysis included about 400
of the 2,000 people enrolled in the study.
Regeneron issued the data in a press release, and the findings
haven't yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific
Among patients who received Regeneron's drug, 5.4% tested
positive for Covid-19, compared with 10.3% of those who received
placebos. None of the people taking the drug developed symptoms
from the virus, compared with about 3.6% of people receiving
placebos, Regeneron said.
The average age of patients in the study was 43, and about half
were Hispanic and 13% were Black.
"These data using REGEN-COV as a passive vaccine suggest that it
may both reduce transmission of the virus as well as reduce viral
and disease burden in those who still get infected," George
Yancopoulos, Regeneron's president and chief scientific officer,
Separately, Lilly said injecting a combination of two of its
antibodies into infected patients with early symptoms of Covid-19
reduced their risk of dying or being hospitalized by 70% in a
late-stage, or Phase 3, clinical trial.
The company said the treatment reduced viral levels and improved
symptoms in the patients, many of whom were at risk of worsening to
severe disease because they were at least 65 years old, obese or
had another health condition.
Lilly said that among 1,035 patients in the study, there were no
deaths among patients taking the two-antibody combination, and 10
deaths among those who received a placebo.
Lilly had reported some interim data from the study in October,
and provided more results in a press release Tuesday. The new
results haven't yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical
The company has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to
authorize the emergency use of the two-antibody combination to
treat people with mild to moderate Covid-19 who are at high risk of
worsening to severe disease.
Lilly said it was working with the FDA to try to shorten the
infusion time for the drug to as little as 16 minutes from an hour,
to help make it more convenient.
--Peter Loftus contributed to this article.
Write to Joseph Walker at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 26, 2021 11:04 ET (16:04 GMT)
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