EU to shortly approve first Covid antibody drugs

Reported approval comes amid surge in infections and hospitalisations

The EU drugs regulator is set to authorise the use of two monoclonal antibodies to treat Covid-19 patients in coming days, two EU sources told Reuters, in its first approvals of such therapies.

The authorisations would come as the EU faces a new surge in infections and hospitalisations despite high vaccination levels in many countries.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will this week give the green light to the treatment developed by US biotech firm Regeneron and Swiss giant Roche, one source said. The cocktail of antibodies is known as Regen-COV in the US, and is sold elsewhere under the brand name Ronapreve.

The European regulator will also authorise this week the use in the EU of the monoclonal antibody Regkirona, developed by South Korean biotech company Celltrion, the source added, asking not to be named because the information is still confidential.

A second official familiar with the authorisation process said the approvals were “imminent”, but the precise dates had not been decided.

Both drugs are currently used to treat Covid-19 patients at risk of developing a severe infection.

The two authorisations would mark an acceleration in the agency’s drug approvals.

Applications for both drugs were submitted in early October, and the EMA said then “it could issue an opinion within two months”. Celltrion expects a decision by the end of November, a spokesperson for the company said.

Roche, who applied in Europe for the approval of Ronapreve, did not respond to a request for comment.

EMA declined to comment on the approvals, but said the two drugs were being discussed at this week’s monthly meetings of the agency’s committee that is responsible for authorisations of treatments. The meetings started on Monday and will continue until Thursday.

The review comes after Eli Lilly last week withdrew its application for EU approval of its antibody-based treatment, citing a lack of demand from EU member states as the bloc focuses on other suppliers. – Reuters