Over the next two months, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Defense (DoD) will provide $375 million to Eli Lilly and Company in exchange for 300,000 doses of its investigational COVID-19 therapeutic, LY-CoV555.
These will be the first doses of the drug available. If acceptable, the government has the option under agreed terms to purchase up to 650,000 additional doses through the end of June 2021, for another $812.5 million. If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes use of the drug, these doses will be allocated to state and territorial health departments, which will then disperse them further.
“This agreement with Eli Lilly is part of Operation Warp Speed’s efforts to position the federal government to distribute potential therapeutics, allowing faster distribution if trials are successful,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.
If authorized, the government’s doses of the drug would be offered to U.S. citizens at no cost, although healthcare professionals could still charge for administering it. LY-CoV555, also known as bamlanivimab, is currently being evaluated in phase three clinical trials funded by Eli Lilly and in clinical trials as part of the ACTIV public-private partnership led by the National Institutes of Health.
Specifically, bamlanivimab is being reviewed as a possible treatment for COVID-19 in outpatients.
Funding for the new contract comes from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the DoD Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense and Army Contracting Command.