Biden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug

Biden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug
© Getty Images

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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpMyPillow CEO to pull ads from Fox News Haaland, Native American leaders press for Indigenous land protections Simone Biles, Vince Lombardi and the courage to walk away 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 GiulianiCapitol insurrection hearing exposes Trumpworld delusions DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Bob Dole: 'I'm a Trumper' but 'I'm sort of Trumped out' MORE, former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieChris Christie: Unvaccinated people don't want to be 'indoctrinated' by government Former lieutenant governor of New Jersey leaves GOP Half of states now restrict conversion therapy for LGBTQ kids MORE and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBen CarsonGovernment indoctrination, whether 'critical' or 'patriotic,' is wrong Noem takes pledge to restore 'patriotic education' in schools Watchdog blames Puerto Rico hurricane relief delays on Trump-era bureaucracy MORE.