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Biden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug

Biden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug
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The Biden administration on Friday announced an agreement to purchase 100,000 doses of Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibody cocktail that was recently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The move will increase the available supply of one of the few proven treatments for people with COVID-19. The antibody drugs are authorized for use in patients who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill but are not yet hospitalized.

Under the agreement, the federal government will pay $210 million for the initial purchase of up to 100,000 treatment courses of the therapeutic, which is a combination of the drug bamlanivimab, which was authorized last November for high-risk COVID-19 patients, with a second drug known as etesevimab. 

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The combination received emergency use authorization earlier this month, after data showed it reduced the risk of hospitalization and death by 70 percent.

The agreement includes flexibility to purchase up to a total of 1.2 million doses through November, but it will likely depend on the course of the pandemic over the next several months.  

The government has already committed to purchase a total of 1,450,000 doses of bamlanivimab alone, which includes more than 1 million doses that have been delivered and an agreement to deliver 450,000 additional doses by the end of March.

The government has said it will provide neutralizing antibodies at no out-of-pocket cost to patients, although health care facilities may charge a fee for the product's administration.

To receive an antibody therapeutic treatment, patients should contact their health care providers. 

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Another antibody treatment manufactured by Regeneron is also authorized by FDA. Regeneron is supplying the federal government up to 1.5 million doses.

But despite their effectiveness and the federal efforts to encourage use, antibody therapy has seen lackluster demand.

Supply was limited at first, and making sure the drug gets to patients is a complex undertaking. Since they are infusion drugs, antibodies need to be administered in the proper setting. The window to administer the drugs is small, and patients need a quick diagnosis. 

Getting patients to an infusion center or hospital is difficult, especially as the out-of-control pandemic is putting a massive strain on hospitals and health workers. Experts have called for a better system to make sure the drugs can reach the patients who need them the most.

Monoclonal antibody treatments got a publicity boost last fall when they were given to former President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse votes to condemn Chinese government over Hong Kong Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at age 93 White House readies for Chauvin verdict MORE when he was infected last fall. 

The treatments were also given to high-profile Republicans and Trump allies, such as his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMyPillow files countersuit against Dominion Voting Systems Guilfoyle named as national chair of Greitens' Senate campaign in Missouri Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP MORE, former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - All US adults now eligible for COVID vaccines Parade of 2024 GOP hopefuls court House conservatives Energy secretary: 'We don't want to use past definitions of infrastructure' MORE and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonCOVID-19 homelessness is a public health problem — it's about to get worse Marcia Fudge — 'The Fixer' — will take on HUD Biden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug MORE.