Regeneron coronavirus drug may be ready by late 2020

The pharmaceutical company says it will start human trials of the antibody cocktail in June.

A pedestrian in New York City in the United States wears a protective face mask while walking past a homeless man sitting on a sidewalk during the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has claimed over 250,000 lives worldwide [Mike Segar/Reuters]

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Tuesday that it was possible its experimental antibody cocktail for COVID-19 may be available for use by September or a few months later as it ramps up efforts to start human trials in June.

The company is one of the many drugmakers looking to tackle COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus that has no current approved treatment or vaccine and has claimed over 250,000 lives worldwide.

Regeneron is developing an antibody cocktail with the aim of making clinical data available within a month or two after starting the studies and scaling up its manufacturing to produce 200,000 doses per month by late September.

The company’s shares rose six percent to $574.98 in late morning trade.

“The hope is it might be possible by the end of the summer or the fall that our antibody treatment could be available,” said George Yancopoulos, cofounder and chief scientific officer of the United States-based Regeneron, during a conference call.

“[There are] a lot of risks, a lot of concerns, but we are working as hard as we can with so many collaborators to try to turn that into a reality,” he added.

The drugmaker said it would test the antibody cocktail in three different settings to assess its effectiveness in the early stages of the disease, in hospitalised patients with severe disease, and in the prevention of infection.

Regeneron is also testing its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kevzara, in patients with severe cases of the coronavirus, banking on the theory that it could help regulate a dangerous overreaction by the body’s immune system, which may be triggering the respiratory distress seen in severe cases.

Regeneron also beat quarterly profit estimates on Tuesday after demand for its blockbuster eye drug, Eylea, saw little impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Widespread lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the outbreak have prompted patients to reschedule their hospital visits, hitting sales of rival eye drug Lucentis, jointly developed by Novartis and Roche.

With a nearly 15 percent decline in Eylea demand in April, Regeneron expects its second quarter to take the biggest hit from the COVID-19 outbreak and said it was encouraged by a recent rebound in demand for its hospital-administered drugs.

Global Eylea sales rose 6.3 percent to $1.85bn during the quarter.

Excluding items, Regeneron earned $6.60 per share, while its revenue rose 33.2 percent to $1.83bn.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $6.13 per share on revenue of $1.76 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Source: Reuters