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Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks is still confident in his treatment with Covid antibodies

Eli Lilly chairman and CEO Dave Ricks told CNBC on Tuesday that he believed the company’s coronavirus antibody treatment would still benefit patients with Covid-19, despite the recent end of the hospital’s study.

The government-discontinued clinical trial examined whether antibody treatment helped people hospitalized with coronavirus. In a statement Monday, Eli Lily said data from the study so far showed that the drug was “unlikely” to help patients recover from the advanced stage of the disease.

“These are patients who had symptoms many, many days ago. They have advanced to the hospital. Many have been on extra oxygen,”

; Ricks said in the Squawk Box. “It’s disappointing, of course. We’d like to show a benefit in the hospital. That benefit seems to be there, so this chapter of this study will end.”

Other studies involving treatment with Eli Lilly antibodies continue to move forward, including another sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, which includes recently diagnosed patients with Covid-19 who have mild to moderate cases of the disease. Lily is also conducting a study to see if antibody treatment is effective on a preventive basis for residents and staff in nursing homes.

Earlier this month, Eli Lilly applied for emergency use to the US Food and Drug Administration for her single-dose antibody treatment, specifically for use in mild to moderate patients with Covid-19 who are exposed to higher levels of antibodies. risk of death, such as those over 65 years of age. The pharmaceutical company also said it hopes to apply for emergency use in November for the combination treatment, which uses two antibodies.

So far, the company has seen “strong results” from antibody studies that include patients who were previously diagnosed with Covid-19, Ricks said. “Early detection of the disease, where you can reduce the viral load of the antibody, seems to make a significant difference.”

Eli Lilly is among several other companies developing drugs against coronavirus antibodies that experts see as promising potential treatment with Covid-19. The purpose of this class of drugs is to increase the immune system’s defenses and prevent the virus from infecting human cells.

President Donald Trump received an antibody cocktail from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals after being diagnosed with Covid-19 in early October. Regeneron has also applied for an emergency use permit to the FDA.

Rix said Covid-19 has proven to be a “biphasic disease,” which may help explain why antibody treatment does not appear to benefit hospitalized patients.

“You have an initial phase that is characterized by significant viral replication and the effects of that on your body causing symptoms,” he said. “Then the second phase, in which, unfortunately, people develop their own immune storm, which causes the organs to close and end up in the hospital.”

By the time the patient is in the hospital, Ricks said, there may not be “enough viral load left to reduce” antibody treatment. “Instead, we may want to use anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids or our own Olumiant, which has been proven [effective] in this setting, “he said. Olumiant is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, which is a chronic inflammatory disorder.

Shares of Eli Lilly fell nearly 5 percent early on Tuesday as investors took into account both the end of the hospital survey and the company’s quarterly results. Adjusted earnings per share of $ 1.54 missed Wall Street expectations by 17 cents, while revenue of $ 5.74 billion also fell short of forecasts.

Eli Lilly saw a weakness in her diabetes drug Trulicity, led by higher-than-expected discounts and more Medicaid sales, according to Ricks. He also noted that the company’s $ 125 million spending to speed up coronavirus treatment also weighed on profits. “It was never in our leadership,” he said.

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