Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN -2.01%) recently won an expanded U.S. Emergency Use Authorization for REGEN-COV, its antibody cocktail for COVID-19. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on August 4, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss why this latest authorization might not be a big deal for the company.
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Keith Speights: We do have one other piece of COVID news to discuss before we get into some questions from our Monday segment, Brian. Regeneron won an expanded Emergency Use Authorization in the United States for its antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV. This happened late last week.
The company already had EUA for this therapy and treating patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 with a high risk of developing a more severe case. But now, REGEN-COV can also be used as post-exposure prophylaxis to potentially prevent infection. Do you think this is a big deal for Regeneron over the short-term or long-term, or not?
Brian Orelli: The approval is for, and bear with me here because it's long, "post-exposure prophylaxis in people at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19 who are not fully vaccinated, or are not expected to mount an adequate response to vaccination and have been exposed to SARS‑CoV‑2 infected individuals, or who are at high risk of exposure to an infected individual because of infection occurring in the same institutional setting." Let's break that down.
Speights: That's a mouthful. [laughs]
Orelli: It was a mouthful. I stumbled through it, not too well. Let's break that down.
The post-exposure prophylaxis, that's pretty obvious and that's the person who's been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or is likely to be exposed because they're in, let's say a nursing home or a prison. High risk for progression to severe COVID-19, that means the person has some underlying condition and then not fully vaccinated or are not expected to mount an adequate response to vaccination.
You'd hope that most people who have an underlying condition that would result in them having a high risk to progress to severe COVID-19 would be fully vaccinated. But many of those underlying conditions could result in that inadequate response to the vaccine. Then some of the people with underlying conditions might actually just not be able to get vaccinated, because their underlying condition causes the doctor to think that they shouldn't. The risks of being vaccinated are not as good as the potential rewards. But all those [inaudible] eventually going to lower the total market for the cocktail.
I think the prophylaxis approval would've been great before vaccines. But I don't see it benefiting Regeneron all that much. It'll create some incremental sales. But I think the infection rate, the amount of people who are actually getting infected, which will affect both the sales for treatment as well as some sales for prophylaxis, will have a much bigger impact on sales whether they go high or low, depending on the infection rate compared to adding on this prophylaxis approval.
Speights: I think you're exactly right, Brian. The other thing to remember here is that this antibody cocktail is either infuse or I think it can be subcutaneous injection, but still, that's not the most convenient form of administration. In light of everything else, that mouthful that you rattled off, that on top of it. I think this isn't as big of a deal as it might seem at first glance.