Biden administration buys 100,000 doses of Lilly antibody drug

The Biden administration on Friday announced an agreement to purchase 100,000 doses of Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody cocktail that was recently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

The move will increase the available supply of one of the few proven treatments for people with COVID-19. The antibody drugs are authorized for use in patients who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill but are not yet hospitalized.

Under the agreement, the federal government will pay $210 million for the initial purchase of up to 100,000 treatment courses of the therapeutic, which is a combination of the drug bamlanivimab, which was authorized last November for high-risk Covid-19 patients, with a second drug known as etesevimab.

The agreement includes flexibility to purchase up to a total of 1.2 million doses through November, but how much of that is exercised will likely depend on the course of the pandemic over the next several months.

Difficult to get: The hope is with the additional supply of drugs, they will be more readily available to people who need them. But demand has also been lackluster. Supply was limited at first, and making sure the drug gets to patients is a complex undertaking. Since they are infusion drugs, antibodies need to be administered in the proper setting. The window to administer the drugs is small, and patients need a quick diagnosis.

The plus side: The drugs are free, but health care facilities may charge for the administration.