INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Drugmaker Eli Lilly said its antibody drug on Thursday could prevent COVID-19 disease in residents and employees of nursing homes and other long-term care locations.
This is the first major study to show such treatment that can prevent disease in a group that is devastated by an epidemic.
Drugmakers said residents and staff who received the drug had a 57% lower risk of receiving COVID-19 than others at the same facility, who said the drug users. Among nursing home residents only, the risk was reduced by 80%.
The study included more than 1,000 residents and staff at other long-term care locations such as nursing homes and aided homes. The vast majority tested negative at the beginning of the study. Some were assigned to receive medication, which is given through an IV, and others have received placebo infusions.
The research was conducted with the National Institutes of Health. The results were released in a press release, and the company said it would soon publish more details in a magazine.
Of the approximately 300 residents who did not have COVID-19, four subsequently succumbed to illness and died. Lily said that all of them had received placebo.
In November the Food and Drug Administration allowed emergency use of the Lilly antibody drug for treatment with people aged 12 and with mild or moderate cases of COVID-19 who do not require hospitalization. This is a one-time treatment.
Lilly said it plans to work with regulators to look into expanding the authority to prevent and treat COVID-19 in long-term care facilities where vaccination is already underway.
Experts have said that drugs such as Lily can serve as a bridge to help manage the virus until vaccines are widely available.
The epidemic has hit nursing homes and other long-term care locations. In the United States, they account for less than 1% of the population, but COVID-19 accounts for about 40% of deaths.
These long-term care locations have recently been given priority to vaccinate residents and staff with authorized COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccination began last month at locations across the country.
The two vaccines approved for emergency use by Pfizer and Modern require two doses. Major drugstores in almost all states are giving shots at chain CVS and Walgren Nursing Homes.
The companies said they expected to deliver the first dose in nursing homes this month. Their vaccination programs in nursing homes are expected to be largely wrapped up in February and March. Progress has been slow at other long-term locations, such as receiving assistance, where residents require less medical care than those in nursing homes.
Steve Brozak, president of WBB Securities, which follows the pharmaceutical industry, said that Lilly’s medicine would still be needed in places like nursing homes, although vaccines are already being distributed there.
But Brozak questioned how long the treatment could be effective with new variants of the virus.
The Associated Press Department of Health and Sciences has support from the Science Education Department of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.