US govt officials put early end to Lilly drug study on people hospitalised with the virus
US government officials are putting an early end to a study testing an Eli Lilly antibody drug for people hospitalised with COVID-19 because it doesn’t seem to be helping them.
Independent monitors had paused enrollment in the study two weeks ago because of a possible safety issue.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsors the study, recently said a closer look found no safety problem but a low chance that the drug would prove helpful for hospitalised patients.
It is a setback for one of the most promising treatment approaches for COVID-19. US President Donald Trump received a similar experimental antibody drug from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals on an emergency basis when he was sickened with the coronavirus earlier this month.
In a statement Lilly noted that the US government is continuing a separate study testing the antibody drug in mild to moderately ill patients, to try to prevent hospitalisation and severe illness. The company is also continuing its own studies testing the drug, which is being developed with the Canadian company AbCellera.
Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated.
The experimental drugs are concentrated versions of one or two specific antibodies that worked best against the coronavirus in lab and animal tests.
Lilly and Regeneron have asked the US FDA to grant emergency use authorisation for their drugs for COVID-19 while late-stage studies continue. Lilly says its request is based on other results that the drug is beneficial.