- Eli Lilly CEO Dave Ricks provided an encouraging update on the battle against COVID-19.
- The company has been manufacturing its treatment since July.
- Eli Lilly now knows its treatment is highly effective in early-stage patients.
Eli Lilly And Co (NYSE: LLY) CEO Dave Ricks was interviewed on “Bloomberg Surveillance” Tuesday morning to offer additional commentary on the company’s earlier earnings report and the pharmaceutical giant’s outlook.
COVID-19 treatment update
Eli Lilly has been working on treatments against the COVID-19 virus that consists of a neutralizing antibody meant for symptomatic individuals in an outpatient setting. According to Ricks’ comments on Bloomberg TV, the company is close to confirming that the treatment of the disease with monoclonal antibodies early in the infection can make a “significant difference” inpatient outcome.
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On the other hand, it wasn’t until the past few days where the company discovered its treatment is not very effective later on in the disease’s progression.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing data the company submitted as part of the process to request an emergency use authorization, the CEO said.
Meanwhile, the scientific community will know “pretty soon” what treatments and vaccines from rival pharmaceutical companies will help in the global battle against the disease.
“I’m confident because we have so many shots on goal, really an unprecedented number so quickly,” Ricks said. “I think science will win in the end.”
Understanding the science
Eli Lilly already started to commercially manufacture its COVID-19 treatment in July so it can better address challenges in mass scaling. One of the biggest challenges the company faces is the limited infrastructure across the world needed to make monoclonal antibody therapies.
The company succeeded in harvesting five different sites across its own network and forming new collaborations, he said. But even these efforts won’t be enough to fully address the current global infection rate.
As such, the company believes that high-risk patients as soon as they are diagnosed with the virus should have top priority for its treatment
Given the unprecedented need for therapies to better control the pandemic, pricing and access are two of the more controversial topics of conversation. In theory, a manufacturer can set a high cost for its therapy that would imply lower-income and third world countries would have little to no access.
Eli Lilly is working with governments worldwide to negotiate deals to distribute its treatment as management emphasizes the economic benefit it offers to early-stage patients. Most notably, an average COVID-19 related hospital stay in the U.S. is around $22,000 per person so there is “ample room to share that value assuming the drug is approved.”
The company requires a “modest return” on its treatment but has no desire to see the same profit level as other therapies, the CEO said.