The majority of doses of coronavirus antibody drugs are going unused, a new report claims.
According to CNBC, Operation Warp Speed ships out some 65,000 doses of the drugs across the U.S. each week.
But, chief of the vaccine initiative Dr Moncef Slaoui said only five to 20 percent of treatments – made by Eli Lilly and Regeneron – are getting used
President Trump was given Regeneron’s treatment when he was battling COVID-19. He referred to the drug as a ‘cure’ (although it is not).
Now, they’re going mostly unused, likely because there is only a short window of time when they’re useful – and most people with COVID-19 don’t even know they are sick during those early days of their illness.
Coronavirus antibody drugs made by Eli Lilly and Regeneron (pictured) are shipped to states every week, but at least 80% go unused, Operation Warp Speed chief Dr Moncef Slaoui said
Dr Moncef Slaoui, co-chief of Operation Warp Speed, told CNBC anywhere from five to 20 percent of the 65,000 doses shipped out each week go unused
President Trump called his COVID-19 diagnosis a ‘gift from God’ because it meant that he received an antibody cocktail, supposedly saw its benefits and could ensure that all Americans reaped the same.
He urged quick approval of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail and Eli Lilly’s similar antibody drug and promised to make it free to all Americans.
Nearly simultaneous with the president’s soaring endorsement, the firms asked the FDA to give their drugs emergency approval.
Trump made a swift recovery. The U.S. poured nearly half a bill dollars into funding the development and production of yet another drug, being made by UK pharma firm, AstraZeneca.
About a month after Trump had been treated with Regeneron’s drug, the FDA issued emergency use authorization for Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment.
Regeneron’s cocktail got the same designation about a week later.
Days later, the U.S. shipped 30,000 doses of Regeneron’s drug, on November 24.
Regulators swiftly gave emergency approval to coronavirus antibody drugs after President Trump was treated with one made by Regeneron and hailed it, incorrectly, a ‘cure’
The U.S. has spent at least a billion dollars funding development and making deals for doses of the antibody drugs made be Regeneron (pictured) and Eli Lilly
The federal government spent $375 million on its first order of 300,000 doses of Lilly’s drug, then another $812.5 million to max out its option to buy another 650,000 doses.
Regeneron got a $450 million deal with the U.S. government for up to 300,000 doses of its antibody cocktail. The federal government pledged that those first doses would be free, although hospitals can charge for administering them.
The regular co
Now, the drugs he was so certain save lives are sitting unused on hospital shelves.
Slaoui told CNBC that the reason is that the window when the drugs work is narrow – they’re supposed to be given before someone is sick enough to need oxygen or be hospitalized.
But because they are IV drugs, a doctor can’t just call it in for a patient to get from a pharmacy – a nurse or technician has to administer the drugs at a clinic or come to the patient’s home to give them the infusion.
Otherwise, a coronavirus antibody drug treatment costs about $1,250 for each dose.
In trials, the drugs were shown to cut hospitalization risks, but at present, they seem mostly just to be cutting considerable dents in the U.S. budget.
It’s a shame in away. People who got Eli Lilly’s drug in trials were nearly 75 percent less likely to need to be hospitalized.
But many people still don’t know they have COVID-19 until they need to go to a hospital or may need oxygen by the time they realize they’re sick enough to need treatment beyond rest and fluids.
Dr Slaoui did not say whether the government will continue to ship the same quantity of the antibody drugs, or how many patients have been treated with them.
However, with cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 surging across the country, the drugs could soon have a grim renaissance, as they are one of only a handful of authorized treatments