Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen announced another strategy to help address the coronavirus pandemic, entering into a manufacturing agreement with Eli Lilly to produce COVID-19 antibodies.
Eli Lilly, based in Indianapolis, has been pursuing several antibody treatments for the virus, the two companies said in a Sept. 17 news release. With access to Amgen’s manufacturing resources, it will be able to scale up production significantly should a product demonstrate its effectiveness and receive approval from regulators.
“Increasing the manufacturing capacity for our neutralizing antibodies through this collaboration with Amgen is a crucial next step, and together we hope to be able to produce many millions of doses even next year,” Daniel Skovronsky, chief scientific officer for Lilly, said in the release.
Shares for Amgen were largely unchanged the day after the announcement, at around $245, up around 4 percent since the start of the year. Lilly stock rose around 2 percent following the announcement.
Just a day before, Lilly revealed promising early results from an ongoing trial of 800 recently diagnosed COVID-19 patients who were treated with antibodies. The product reduced viral load for some patients and contributed to earlier clearance of the virus and lower hospitalization rates, the company said.
“We are impressed with Lilly’s data, in particular the reduction in hospitalizations, and are enthusiastic about the potential for these neutralizing antibodies as a therapeutic for COVID-19,” said Amgen’s head of research and development, David Reese.
Amgen previously announced a partnership with Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies to identify antibodies that could treat or prevent COVID-19. Amgen’s anti-inflammatory drug Otezla has also been included in accelerated trials of several FDA-approved drugs that could be used to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients experiencing respiratory distress.