Thursday, April 29, 2021

Covid antibody treatment going unused in Canada

Canadian-made COVID-19 antibody treatment sitting on shelves due to lack of administration plan | CTV News - Avis Favaro, Elizabeth St. Philip, Brooklyn Neustaeter, Solarina Ho:

April 24, 2021 - "A Canadian-made COVID-19 antibody treatment is sitting on hospital and pharmacy shelves amid the country’s third wave of the pandemic because doctors say a plan on how to administer the drug was never made.... 

"Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The drug mimics the immune system’s ability to fight off the virus and was developed by AbCellera Biologics Inc. in Vancouver with the support of the federal government, which had committed up to $175.6 million to the company in May 2020 to develop antibody therapies.... The one-dose treatment, which is sold by Eli Lilly Canada, Inc., can be used in health-care facilities such as hospitals, as it is given by infusion into the veins of patients. As an antibody therapy, it is part of a major class of drugs normally used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, Sachdev Sidhu, a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Toronto, said in an interview....

"Health Canada authorized the drug in November 2020 under the interim order respecting the importation, sale and advertising of drugs for use in relation to COVID-19. According to Health Canada, 26,000 doses of the treatment were purchased for $40 million and distributed amongst the provinces. However, almost none of those doses have been used.

"Countries around the world have been using bamlanivimab to help keep COVID-19 patients out of hospital and reduce deaths for months. More than 400,000 COVID-19 patients worldwide have benefited from the drug, according to Michael McDougall, a spokesperson for Eli Lilly.... According to AbCellera Biologics, studies have shown the treatment is effective against SARS-CoV-2, and the variant first identified in the United Kingdom. Despite this, provincial health authorities have not yet made the treatment available to Canadians.

"AbCellera Biologics CEO Carl Hansen told CTV National News ... that provincial government[s] did not issue a plan on how to administer the treatment, causing doctors to leave it on shelves.... CTV News has reached out to provincial health units for comment, but did not hear back before this story was published....

"[T]he U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent revocation of bamlanivimab’s Emergency Use authorization could cause some confusion with the public. A Health Canada spokesperson told via email that ... 'There is no change to bamlanivimab authorization in Canada and Eli Lilly has not requested that Health Canada revoke its authorization. Bamlanivimab used by itself is effective against the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, which is the main variant circulating in Canada at this time.'" 

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