Eli Lilly, Amgen join forces to scale production of COVID-19 antibody cocktails

Eli Lilly
Eli Lilly has already appealed to the FDA for an emergency approval for RA med Olumiant as a potential treatment for COVID-19. (Lilly)

Months of fervid research have whittled away most potential options to treat patients with COVID-19, a group of antibody cocktails still hold promise. Eli Lilly believes so strongly in its contender that it's bringing on a major pharma partner to chip in on production. 

Eli LIlly and Amgen have teamed up to scale manufacturing of future antibody cocktails, including Lilly's LY-CoV-55, in testing to treat COVID-19, the partners said Thursday. 

In a joint statement slim on details, both drugmakers pledged only to "quickly scale up production" of a range of neutralizing antibodies Lilly is studying to treat COVID-19—if any get over the regulatory finish line, that is.

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The most promising of those candidates is LY-CoV-555, an AbCellera-partnered cocktail that entered phase 3 human testing in August. Lilly is also developing LY-CoV016 through a licensing deal with China’s Junshi Biosciences and has launched a phase 2 trial testing a combination of the two in patients with early, mild to moderate COVID-19.

An Amgen spokesman declined in an email to offer further details on the deal. 

So far, Lilly's lead antibody candidate has shown mixed promise in human tests, with data from a phase 2 trial release this week showing two of three tested doses didn't top placebo in reducing patients' viral load at the 11-day mark. 

Only the 2,800-milligram dose met the primary endpoint. The other two doses—700 milligrams and 7,000 milligrams—did no better than placebo. Typically, the highest dose of a drug has the biggest effect.  

RELATED: AstraZeneca, Lilly, GSK and more will share COVID-19 antibody secrets to speed manufacturing scale-up

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