U.S. government officials are putting an early end to a study testing Eli Lilly’s antibody drug for people hospitalized with COVID-19 because it doesn’t seem to help.
Independent observers had stopped enrolling in the study two weeks ago due to a possible safety issue. But on Monday, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the study, said a closer look did not confirm a safety issue, but found little chance of the drug being useful for hospitalized patients.
This is an obstacle to one of the most promising approaches to treating COVID-1
In a statement, Lily noted that the government is continuing a separate study testing the drug with antibodies in mild to moderately ill patients to try to prevent hospitalization and serious illness. The company is also continuing its own research to test the drug, which is being developed with Canadian company AbCellera.
Antibodies are proteins that the body produces when an infection occurs; they bind to the virus and help eliminate it. Experimental drugs are concentrated versions of one or two specific antibodies that have worked best against the coronavirus in laboratory and animal tests.
Lilly and Regeneron have asked the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize the emergency use of their COVID-19 drugs, while late-stage studies are ongoing. Lily says his request is based on other results, which suggest the drug helps patients who are not hospitalized and that he will continue to seek FDA approval for emergency use.
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