Eli Lilly said its antibody treatment does not work on patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
The drug maker Eli Lilly said on Monday that its antibody treatment was ineffective on patients hospitalized with advanced Covid-19 and that a government-sponsored trial would not administer the drug to new participants.
The company said that other trials of the treatment, in people who are not as sick or who have been exposed to the virus, would continue, and that it remained optimistic that the treatment could work if given early in the course of the disease.
Earlier this month, Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, said he had received the experimental treatment shortly after he was diagnosed with Covid-19. President Trump received a similar therapy, made by Regeneron, soon after he was infected. Both companies have applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use of the treatment in outpatients.
Eli Lilly’s trial of hospitalized patients was being run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, and was paused two weeks ago after an outside safety panel flagged a “potential safety concern.”
Government officials said at the time that an independent board of scientific experts had found that after five days of treatment, the group of patients who had received the antibodies showed a different “clinical status” than the group who had received a saline placebo — a difference that crossed a predetermined threshold for safety.
On Monday, Eli Lilly said the recommendation to discontinue use of the antibody treatment, called bamlanivimab, “was based on trial data suggesting that bamlanivimab is unlikely to help hospitalized Covid-19 patients recover from this advanced stage of their disease.” The company also said “differences in safety outcomes between the groups were not significant.”
Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trial expert at the Scripps Research Institute who has been following the treatment’s development, said the news “tells us they stopped the trial due to futility, as suspected,” and that it “suggests that the timing of monoclonal antibody administration — early — will be important.”
Other trials of the antibody treatment have shown early promise in people who were newly infected with the virus, showing that it can lower viral levels in patients and reduce visits to the emergency room and hospital.
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