Clinical studies have shown that the drug combination was effective in patients who were not critically ill but at high risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19, or those with severe cases of the disease and none. existing antibody, the WHO said in a statement Friday.
It is the first COVID-19 drug that the WHO has recommended for use in non-severe high-risk patients to reduce the chances of disease progression.
Antibody therapy was granted emergency use authorization in the United States in November of last year after it was used to treat former President Donald Trump when he was admitted to hospital with COVID- 19. The UK has also approved it, while it is under review in Europe.
“WHO cautions in order not to exacerbate health inequalities and limited availability of therapy, patients who are not severe and at higher risk of hospitalization should be treated and those who are severe or critics with HIV-negative status (those who have not developed natural antibodies against COVID-19 determined by specific rapid tests) be treated; because these two groups of patients are the patients who will benefit the most from the treatment, ”the statement said.
The health agency urged Regeneron, which owns the patent, to lower the price of the drug and work on equitable distribution around the world. It is also expected to share the technology to enable the manufacture of biosimilar versions, the WHO added. Swiss drug maker Roche is working in partnership with Regeneron to produce the antibody treatment.
Campaigners and public health experts have urged pharmaceutical companies to lower prices and share intellectual property to ensure treatments and vaccines for coronaviruses, the development of which is often taxpayer-funded, are available to those who need it. need it most, regardless of where they live.
“Live before profits”
As the WHO recommendation was announced, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urged Regeneron to make casirivimab and imdevimab available at a reasonable price and to stop enforcing patents, especially in low-income countries. and intermediate.
“It is just not fair that people living in low- and middle-income countries cannot access new COVID-19 treatments that can reduce the risk of death due to monopolies and the wishes of pharmaceutical companies for high yields, ”Dr Elin Hoffmann Dahl, Infectious Disease Advisor, MSF Access Campaign, said in a statement.
“Casirivimab and imdevimab were only conditionally recommended for COVID-19, but Regeneron has already started filing patents. Rather, Regeneron should set an example for all manufacturers of monoclonal antibodies by putting people’s lives before profits. All over the world, people need affordable and sustainable access to life-saving medicines in this pandemic, as well as in the future. “
The treatment belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies, which have been on the market for decades for many other diseases, including cancer. Each is tailored to target a particular disease.
Regeneron has priced the antiviral cocktail at $ 820 in India, $ 2,000 in Germany and $ 2,100 in the United States, and has filed patent applications in at least 11 low- and middle-income countries, MSF said, noting that the company had developed the treatment with “” public funding and that the cost of manufacturing monoclonal antibody drugs was estimated to be less than $ 100 per gram when produced on a large scale.
WHO said UNITAID, an international health agency, was negotiating with Roche for lower prices and fair distribution to all regions of the world. He is also in talks with the company for a donation and distribution of the drug through UNICEF, according to allocation criteria set by the WHO, he said.