US authorizes new antibody drug to struggle omicron

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. well being regulators on Friday licensed a brand new antibody drug that targets the omicron variant, a key step in restocking the nation’s arsenal in opposition to the newest model of COVID-19.

The Meals and Drug Administration mentioned it cleared the Eli Lilly drug for adults and adolescent sufferers with mild-to-moderate instances of COVID-19. Lilly introduced work on the therapy late final 12 months after testing revealed that its earlier antibody remedy was ineffective in opposition to the dominant omicron variant.

The Biden administration has bought 600,000 doses earlier than the authorization and can start delivery preliminary provides to state well being authorities for distribution.

It is “an necessary step in assembly the necessity for extra instruments to deal with sufferers as new variants of the virus proceed to emerge,” mentioned Dr. Patricia Cavazzoni, FDA’s drug heart director.

The FDA announcement comes after the 2 main monoclonal antibody therapies within the U.S. turned out to be ineffective in opposition to omicron. Information point out the Lilly drug additionally works in opposition to the rising BA.2 mutation of omicron.

Lilly mentioned the contract for its new drug — bebtelovimab, pronounced “beb-teh-LO-vi-mab” — is value a minimum of $720 million.

Laboratory-made monoclonal antibodies stand in for the human physique’s immune system by appearing to dam an invading virus. Delivered by IV or by injection, the medicines are meant for use early in an an infection.

However late final month the FDA revoked its emergency use authorization for Regeneron’s antibody drug, together with Lilly’s. The 2 medicines had been the the spine of antibody therapy, and medical doctors have been onerous pressed to give you fallbacks after they didn’t work in opposition to omicron.

Alternate therapies, together with antiviral capsules from Pfizer and Merck, have been in brief provide. An antibody drug from GlaxoSmithKline that is still efficient in opposition to omicron can also be scarce.

Scientists say COVID-19 therapies like monoclonal antibodies should not an alternative choice to vaccination.

Underneath the U.S. contract with Lilly, the federal government will obtain about 300,000 therapy programs of the brand new antibody drug in February and one other 300,000 in March.


The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Schooling. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

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