COVID Antibody Cocktail Launched: How Does It Work? Who Can Use?

The drug is priced at Rs 59,750 per dose. Here’s all you need to know about it.

3 min read
The monoclonal antibody cocktail consists of Casirivimab and Imdevimab.

Pharmaceutical companies Cipla and Roche on 24 May, launched a coronavirus antibody cocktail drug, which they claim is for non-hospitalised patients who face high risk of their infection turning severe.

The drug was granted Emergency Use Authorisation in India by India’s Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) on 3 May.

While the first batch of Casirivimab and Imdevimab is now available, the second batch is expected by mid-June.

How exactly does this work? Will this treatment be on any benefit? Read on to find out more.

How much does this antibody cocktail cost?

The antibody cocktail drug comes at a steep price of Rs 59,750 for one dose, and Rs 1,19,500 for the multidose pack (each pack can treat two patients), inclusive of all taxes.

How does it work?

Casirivimab and Imdevimab are two neutralising antibody drugs that the treatment contains.

In an interview with FIT, Dr Bharat Gopal, Senior Consultant Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Delhi said, “These two antibodies work similarly to the antibodies produced naturally by the immune system when one gets infected by COVID-19 virus.”

“These antibodies attach to the spike protein of the coronavirus and prevent it from attaching to the human cells and hence preventing symptoms and progression of disease.”
Dr Bharat Gopal, Senior Consultant Pulmonology Fortis Hospital, Delhi

Who can it be used by?

According to Cipla and Roche, the antibody cocktail treatment is for mild to moderate coronavirus disease in non-hospitalised patients, who are confirmed to be infected with SARS-COV2 and stand a high risk of developing a serious COVID-19 disease.

Patients must be adults or pediatric patients 12 years or older and weighing at least 40 kg.

Who is considered to be high risk?

According to Cipla and Roche, the following patients are high risk:

  • Age >= 60 years
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease, including hypertension
  • Chronic lung disease, including asthma
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Chronic kidney disease, including those on dialysis
  • Chronic liver disease
  • lmmunosuppressed, based on investigator’s assessment. Examples include: cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, HIV (if poorly controlled or evidence of AIDS), sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, and prolonged use of immune-weakening medications.

How does this treatment help high-risk patients?

It helps high-risk patients before their condition worsens, reduces the risk of hospitalisation and fatality by 70 percent and shortens the duration of symptoms by four days.

“Its Phase-3 trial data showed that the treatment actually cut the risk of hospitalisation and death by 70-71 percent when used in different dosages.”
Dr Bharat Gopal, Senior Consultant Pulmonology Fortis Hospital, Delhi

How do I go about purchasing it?

  • A medical prescription by a registered medical practitioner is required.
  • The antibody cocktail drug will be available through Cipla’s distribution network across India.

Are there any drawbacks I should be worried about?

Yes, there are risks from the fast-tracking and emergency approvals given.

“Like any new therapy which has been developed during the pandemic, this one also comes with fast-tracking, and emergency approvals —all these do give us doctors some apprehensions.”
Dr Bharat Gopal, Senior Consultant Pulmonology, Fortis hospital, Delhi

Dr Gopal said he is also confident in its safety and efficacy shown in the data available, “We have hope that this may help our patients when used judiciously and appropriately.”

“It’s not meant to be used in those who are hospitalised due to COVID-19, OR who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19, OR who require an increase in baseline oxygen flow rate due to COVID-19 in those on chronic oxygen therapy due to underlying non-COVID-19 related comorbidity.”
Dr Bharat Gopal, Senior Consultant Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital, Delhi

“Hence, patient selection and early initiation will be the key to successful usage of this therapy," he adds.

Dr Gopal also fears that “the indiscriminate usage may lead to shortages for those who may benefit.”

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