Despite gaining emergency use authorizations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over a month ago, many doses of COVID-19 antibody treatments from Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) have gone unused. In this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on Dec. 21, Corinne Cardina, bureau chief of healthcare and cannabis, and Fool.com contributor Brian Orelli discuss the reasons for why the antibody drugs are being underutilized.
Corrine Cardina: There has been some interesting developments on the antibody treatments. These got a lot of attention when they were given emergency use authorizations by the FDA about a month ago, specifically Eli Lilly and Regeneron's antibody treatments. Apparently, these are basically going unused despite being available for over a month. Operation Warp Speed's head, Moncef Slaoui, told CNBC that the government has distributed 250,000 antibody doses to states and territories, apparently only 5% to 20% have actually been used. Brian, what are the reasons that these powerful tools for treating COVID-19 are not being taken advantage of?
Brian Orelli: There's two issues here. The first is just determining who is likely to benefit. They're authorized for patients who are likely to have issues if they go to full-blown severe COVID-19, but they're supposed to be given as early as possible after infection. Patients may not present until they have more severe symptoms, and then at that point, they are not authorized to use the drug.
Then the second issue is just logistical. These antibodies need to be infused and then you have to be hooked up to a machine for about an hour. We have a lot of experience with that oncology ward where you'd have multiple chairs and a nurse checking on each individual patients, but when the patients are infected with COVID-19, you can't have a big room with all those people sitting around in chairs. That requires a little more logistics where you have to have isolated the person and the nurse has to be in full protective gear. I guess Eli Lilly's spokeswoman said that they're testing a pilot program with CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) that would allow for at-home infusions, so that would help maybe alleviate some of this issue.