New Covid-19 treatment drug available for use in Ireland

Government agrees supply deal with GSK for injectable drug sotrovimab

 GlaxoSmithKline says its antibody-based therapy is effective against all mutations of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

GlaxoSmithKline says its antibody-based therapy is effective against all mutations of the new Omicron coronavirus variant. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

 

The first drug covered by the Government’s €90 million investment in treatments for Covid-19 is now available for use in Ireland.

The Government has agreed a supply deal with pharmaceutical company GSK, which gives access for patients to the company’s new Covid-19 treatment.

The drug, sotrovimab (Xevudy), was shown in clinical trials to reduce hospitalisations for more than 24 hours or death due to Covid-19 by 79 per cent.

GSK and its partner Vir Biotechnology agreed a contract last year with the EU to supply up to 220,000 doses of sotrovimab for use by member states.

The company, citing early-stage studies, says its antibody-based therapy is effective against all mutations of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

Last month, the injectable drug received marketing authorisation in Europe, giving Ireland the freedom to order the treatment.

It is only authorised for use in over-12s with Covid-19 who do not need supplemental oxygen and who are at greater risk of developing severe illness. Administration is recommended within five days of Covid symptoms appearing.

In January, the Cabinet agreed to spend €90 million on antiviral and monoclonal antibody treatments made by Pfizer, GSK and Merck (MSD).

Pfizer says its Paxlovid treatment is 89 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation or death in at-risk Covid-19 patients. The drug is being manufactured at the multinational’s Ringaskiddy plant in Co Cork where 80 million courses are expected to be made by the end of the year. On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency recommended the antiviral pill be authorised for use in the EU.

Merck originally said its molnupiravir pill reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death among high-risk patients by 50 per cent but later revised this figure down to 30 per cent.