New Drug Might Speed Up Covid-19 Recovery, Pharma Company Reports

Topline

An antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals could ease Covid-19 symptoms in some patients with milder infections, the company said Tuesday, citing initial data from a trial, joining a growing list of medications that some researchers believe could help people recover from the virus.

Key Facts

Patients who took a high dose of the drug, which is a combination of two antibodies similar to the ones the human body naturally produces to neutralize the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, ended up with fewer virus particles in their bodies than patients in a control group, Regeneron said.

For patients whose bodies had not yet produced antibodies on their own, Covid-19 symptoms went away several days earlier than if they hadn’t taken the medication, indicating that the drug could speed up some patients’ recovery.

The data focused only on patients who are not hospitalized for coronavirus, though Regeneron is currently testing the drug on hospital patients as part of a wider study.

Trials for the drug are still ongoing, though Regeneron said it has shared its early findings with regulators while it continues testing.

Several other companies are also working to develop antibody drugs, including a drug by Eli Lilly that has also reportedly helped some patients recover faster, according to early findings that Eli Lilly released two weeks ago.

What To Watch For

Before the drug can reach any patients, it will need to finish up its trials and earn approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The company could speed up the process by pursuing an emergency use authorization, a system by which the FDA greenlights unapproved drugs in critical situations. Regeneron did not immediately respond when asked about the company’s plans.

Key Background

As pharmaceutical companies race to create a vaccine, some drugmakers are also vying to build antibody drugs that could help patients recover if they are already infected. Some researchers believe antibody drugs, which attack virus particles using antibodies normally created in the human body, could be a bridge to a vaccine, helping patients recover before a vaccine is widely available. Still, despite promising early data, experts say they need more evidence before concluding that Regeneron’s drug is safe and effective.

Crucial Quote

“There’s nothing bad about these results, you just can’t say much about how transformative this is going to be,” Eric Topol, who directs the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told Stat News on Tuesday.

Big Number

33,489,205. That’s the total number of coronavirus cases that have been reported worldwide as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Further Reading

Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody may help non-hospitalized patients recover faster, early data show (Stat)

Antibody drugs could be one of the best weapons against Covid-19. But will they matter? (Stat)

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