In preparation for rising cases of COVID-19, the United States Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Defense (DoD) have purchased an additional 650,000 doses of Eli Lilly and Company’s investigational monoclonal antibody therapeutic, bamlanivimab.
This puts the total number of treatment courses at 950,000 purchased, with the current 300,000 doses in the process of delivery. Additional doses should be delivered over the course of this month and January, with the treatments being shipped on to state and territorial health departments through a proportional system based on confirmed COVID-19 cases, then finally to specific healthcare facilities.
“With COVID-19 cases on the rise, treating people with mild or moderate infections can help prevent hospitalizations, which will reduce that burden on healthcare systems,” HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec said. “To ensure equitable and efficient distribution, we will continue coordinating with Lilly, its distributor, and state and territorial health departments to get these additional therapeutics into the hands of healthcare providers quickly, with a focus on areas of the country currently hardest hit by the pandemic.”
Bamlanivimab requires only a single dose to work. It received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November for use on non-hospitalized patients with mild or moderate cases of COVID-19. Only health care providers with immediate access to medications to treat severe infusion reactions and the ability to tap the emergency medical system are allowed to administer the treatment.
Although the medicine was developed without federal support, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and DoD Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense and the Army Contracting Command funded its purchase. It is also being evaluated in ongoing clinical trials funded by the company, as well as a clinical trial pursued through a public-private partnership led by the National Institutes of Health.
All government-purchased doses are being provided at no cost to patients, although this does not affect what healthcare providers may charge for administering it.