Regeneron, GSK see massive spike in Covid-19 mAb demand as US debates buying more
Friday, August 27, 2021
Source: Endpoints News
The Delta variant is busy driving up new Covid-19 cases nationwide, accelerating demand for monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline, which can reduce hospitalizations and deaths if used appropriately.
Regeneron has seen a dramatic increase in demand for its mAb cocktail of casirivimab plus imdevimab in just the past month. The company has led the mAb field since nabbing an early EUA for the drug, which can now be administered subcutaneously.
Prior to mid-July, Regeneron was shipping fewer than 25,000 doses per week, and now, the company is shipping more than 150,000 doses per week, Regeneron spokesperson Alexandra Bowie told Endpoints News.
Similarly, GlaxoSmithKline, which developed its Delta-fighting mAb with Vir and won an EUA in May, also has seen a steady increase in demand. In August, GSK and Vir saw an almost 300% spike in orders compared to last month, GSK spokesperson Lyndsay Meyer told Endpoints.
But whereas Regeneron’s mAb has been administered in 52 states and territories, and Bowie said “large shipments” are going to states like Florida, Texas and Alabama where infection rates are increasing, GSK said its mAb, known as sotrovimab, is only available in 26 states and territories, although that includes southern states with high rates of Covid cases.
Last quarter, Regeneron said it fulfilled its second US government supply agreement for the mAb, delivering approximately 1.25 million doses, which the federal government is still working its way through.
“The U.S. government is carefully watching the rate of use and rate of infections around the country, and will decide if they want to make another order or prefer we switch to a commercial model,” Bowie said. “We are also watching and evaluating if/when additional drug needs to be produced. We are confident we can produce and deliver more doses this year, if needed, but can’t provide more specifics at this time.”
GSK/Vir have stuck with the commercial market so far, with Meyer adding, “We are optimistic about the role sotrovimab can play in the U.S., especially given the surge of the Delta variant and sotrovimab’s ability to bind to a region of the virus that does not overlap with the binding site location of key mutations in current variants of concern.”
One of the only major issues with the current lot of mAbs, both of which NIH recommends, is that they’re expensive, both to make and to purchase. Regeneron’s mAb has a list price of about $1,250 per dose, while GSK/Vir’s mAb is more than $2,000 per dose. Regeneron’s product is free to patients, paid for by the federal government, but they can still be billed for the cost of administering it.
GSK said it has a co-pay program for commercial patients if they see any costs, reimbursing up to $2,000 for the treatment and up to $100 for administration, Meyer said.
And previous government relief bills ensure other patients with Medicare, Medicaid, or the uninsured won’t have to pay anything to get a mAb.
An HHS spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on whether it’s mulling these additional purchases or when a decision might be made.
It’s been a tumultuous year for mAbs, as the rise of variants led the US in June to halt its distribution of Eli Lilly’s combo mAb targeted at Covid-19.
All in all, the federal government reported as of yesterday about 736,000 doses of monoclonal treatments used since Dec. 9, 2020, but that number includes the Lilly products too.