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Eli Lilly COVID-19 antibody treatment will bring heavy infusion costs:



Researchers at Eli Lilly tested possible COVID-19 antibodies in a laboratory in Indianapolis.

David Morrison/Associated Press


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David Morrison/Associated Press

Researchers at Eli Lilly tested possible COVID-19 antibodies in a laboratory in Indianapolis.

David Morrison/Associated Press

Eli Lilly has reached an agreement with the federal government to provide 300,000 doses of the drug, which is designed to prevent people infected with COVID-19 from entering the hospital. Cost per dose: US$1,250.

The federal government plans to distribute 300,000 doses for free, but this does not mean that treatment is free.

Lilly’s drug is a monoclonal antibody that is administered by intravenous infusion. An infusion usually performed in a hospital or independent clinic can cost more than $1,000. People with health insurance usually have to pay hundreds of dollars in copayments.

CEO Dave Ricks said: “Our goal is to make as much as possible the out-of-pocket cost of any patient receiving Lilly COVID-19 antibody treatment.” However, his statement acknowledged that “medical institutions may be Charges for the management of “.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering whether to grant emergency use authorization for the drug and similar products developed by Regeneron. Eli Lilly’s transaction depends on the FDA’s approval of the drug for emergency use.

President Trump received Regeneron treatment shortly after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He told Americans that they would also get it with little or no out-of-pocket expenses. However, the federal government has not yet resolved the issue of infusion costs.

Eli Lilly’s drugs were tested. These people have been infected with the coronavirus but are not well enough to go to the hospital.As outlined in a paper published online on Wednesday New England Journal of Medicine, 1.6% of those taking the drug ended up in a hospital or emergency room, compared with 6.3% of those taking a placebo.

This means that to prevent five trips to the emergency room or hospital, the upfront cost of medicine is US$125,000, or US$25,000 each time. However, increasing the cost of infusion may double the cost.

Since only a small percentage of people infected by the coronavirus need to be hospitalized, taking medication to reduce this risk will be a judgment. Is it worth going to the emergency room for infusions and may face huge out-of-pocket costs to reduce the risk of having to return to the hospital again with COVID-19?

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a webcast on Tuesday: “Many people are no longer willing to infusion of antibodies.” Compared with pills, he said: “People are born to think that infusions are more It is invasive and may have a higher risk.”

Ultimately, pharmaceutical companies hope to provide antibodies in the form of injections rather than infusions, but the first-generation products need to be used in large quantities, so infusions are required.

One decision the FDA will need to make is the appropriate dose.The research report is in New England Journal of Medicine It was found that the most effective dose required 2,800 mg of the drug. However, Lilly argues that 700 milligrams is sufficient-in fact, this is the dose it sells to the federal government.

Eli Lilly said it has requested that the drug be specifically provided to those at higher risk, including older Americans and obese people.Its research New England Journal of Medicine Shows greater benefits to people at risk: 4% of people in this group ended up in hospital, compared with 15% of people over 65 or obese in the placebo group. However, the study was not designed to study this subgroup, so this may be a statistical blessing.

This high-risk group still represents a large population. In August alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 164,000 coronavirus cases among Americans over 60. Obesity affects 40% of American adults, so it may convert to 300,000 people every month and may be eligible for this treatment. Therefore, if the demand is high, the 300,000 doses purchased by the government can be used up quickly. Eli Lilly hopes to produce as many as one million doses by the end of 2020 and intends to release them globally.

If the FDA also allows emergency use of Regeneron antibodies, the supply may last longer. This product is a combination of two antibodies. The company says this therapy is most effective for people who have been infected but have not yet produced autoantibodies (which usually appear in the blood about a week after infection). If the FDA restricts the use of this product to people who are negative for coronavirus antibodies, the two products may target different groups of people.

The federal government announced in July that it would purchase up to 300,000 doses of Regeneron antibodies.

Late Wednesday, Regeneron announced that it had submitted more data to the FDA, proving that the company’s monoclonal antibodies can reduce the amount of virus in patients.

The company’s president and chief executive officer, Dr. George Yancopoulos, said in a statement: “The reduction of these viruses is related to a significant reduction in the need for further medical care and a reduction in the need for medical care.”

You can contact Richard Harris in the following ways: rharris@npr.org.


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