Brussels (Brussels Morning) In its ongoing drive to secure COVID-19 therapies, the European Commission signed a commercial agreement yesterday with the Eli Lily pharmaceutical company for the supply of a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients.
“Vaccines cannot be our only response to COVID-19”, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, declared in announcing the joint procurement.
Monoclonal antibodies are important treatments for the early prevention of severe symptoms among those who test positive for COVID-19. The treatment is considered to be effective when given early in the course of disease.
The Eli Lilly product combines two monoclonal antibodies — bamlanivimab and etesevimab — for the treatment of COVID-19 patients who do not require oxygen but are at high risk of severe COVID-19.
Despite over 73% of the EU adult population now being fully vaccinated, Commissioner Kyriakides pointed out that “people still continue to be infected and fall ill”.
“We need to continue our work to prevent illness with vaccines and at the same time ensure that we can treat it with therapeutics”, she added.
EU Therapeutics Strategy
The Eli Lily contract is the third procurement under the EU Therapeutics Strategy, which seeks to facilitate access to state-of-the-art medicines for COVID-19 patients. A total of 18 EU countries have signed up to the joint procurement for the purchase of up to 220,000 treatments.
The agreement brings the number of promising therapeutics announced under the EU strategy to five. The strategy aims to make a broad portfolio — consisting of at least ten new COVID-19 therapeutics — available by October.
Back in March, the Commission partnered with Roche for the product REGN-COV2 — a combination of Casirivimab and Imdevimab — and in July it entered a contract with Glaxo Smith Kline for the supply of sotrovimab (VIR-7831), developed in collaboration with VIR biotechnology.
Eli Lily’s antibody medicine is currently under rolling review by EU’s health watchdog, the European Medicines Agency.