Patients will have no out-of-pocket costs for the medication; potential for purchase of an additional 650,000 vials
The purchase agreement announced today between the Federal Government’s Operation Warp Speed and Eli Lilly for bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) marks another major milestone and vote of confidence for antibody drugs and therapeutics to turn the tide in the war on COVID-19. Here are the key take-aways from our point of view:
- 300,000 doses will be purchased and distributed with no cost to patients, with 100,000 doses immediately after EUA clearance.
- An additional 675,000 doses can be purchased – and produced – by Eli Lilly rapidly.
- Lilly has formed a manufacturing partnership with Amgen and can ramp up to produce up to 1,000,000 doses per month in Q1 2021.
- Lilly’s BLAZE-2 Trial, which is specifically focused on Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, is in Phase 3, testing with over 2,400 Residents and staff of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities who are at risk of exposure due to a positive case of COVID-19 at the facility.
First and foremost, increasing the supply and getting to distribution will start saving lives immediately – if we can get them to people rapidly after confirmed infections. What the recent results from Lilly’s ACTIV-3 trial have shown that early treatment is crucial to the effectiveness of these drugs.
But just as importantly in our book, all of this adds up to very promising picture for the availability and application of antibody drugs for the immunoprevention use case starting in Q1 2021. To paraphrase the old maxim: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment. Especially with COVID-19, where severe disease or death are strongly correlated to age and prexisting conditions, preventing infection in the first place is by far preferable to treating after exposure.
How rapidly that occurs now depends on two things.
- Building awareness and avenues to connect people in vulnerable population groups that have been infected to rapid treatment with antibody-based drugs.
- Ramping up production and distribution to address the prevention use case – not just treatment.
Immunoprevention.org is dedicated to the first problem from a bottom-up approach, building awareness, acceptance and demand for immunoprevention. But we still need the government to move aggressively on production to ensure that the supply can meet the need! With all of this new momentum, let’s hope that this will finally happen. But instead of just hoping, let’s do something!