Eli Lilly’s Covid-19 monoclonal antibody isn’t getting as much use as it could as a result of logistical issues. So the drugmaker is taking matters into its own hands.
The company, in collaboration with local health systems, is opening dedicated local infusion centers across its home state of Indiana, with centers already up and running in the northern, southern and central parts of the state. So far, the infusion centers have shipped antibody therapy to over 1,700 high-risk Hoosiers with Covid-19, Lilly disclosed.
Lilly’s antibody treatment bamlanivimab, together with Regeneron’s combination casirivimab and imdevimab, have FDA emergency use authorization to treat high-risk patients with mild to moderate cases of Covid-19 who aren’t hospitalized. But that is also part of the hurdle. Infusions must be prescribed and administered in a clinic or hospital setting, but patients already on admission with more severe cases of Covid-19 are ineligible.
While Lilly is offering operational support to the three infusion sites in Indiana, it doesn’t presently have plans to establish additional pilot sites, a Lilly representative disclosed in an email. The drugmaker is reporting insights and lessons learned from the three sites with health systems, governments and other stakeholders.
“Our goal is to help gain learnings on how to effectively and quickly launch infusion sites and to share those learning with any hospital or health system willing to consider setting up their own sites. Lilly is proud to offer resources, available to any health system interested in setting up their own infusion site,” the representative remarked.
Regeneron hailed Lilly’s local infusion center effort. “We are continuing to work with federal/state governments, healthcare systems and individual providers to raise mAb awareness and ease the administration process, but don’t have a formal program like this to announce at the moment,” one of the company’s spokesperson said.
The logistics surrounding the new antibody treatments have proven overwhelming not only for healthcare providers and patients but also for Pharma companies. Without full FDA approval, the two companies are also restricted in how they can promote the drugs.
Regeneron execs, speaking at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January, confirmed that the slow uptake of antibody therapies is “a problem.” Society has “to do a much better job” at getting antibody treatments to patients, R&D chief George Yancopoulos remarked, noting that Regeneron should work more closely with the U.S. government to determine effective ways to get its cocktail to people who need it.