When Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 therapy bamlanivimab, it marked a significant step in the fight against COVID-19. It also represented a herculean effort by scientists and researchers at Lilly to make it happen.
Lilly and Canadian partner AbCellera began work on the antibody treatment in late February. “We took what typically takes somewhere between five and 10 years and got it into 8 months to get Emergency Use Authorization,” said Lilly Chief Financial Officer Josh Smiley. “We really have put the full weight of our scientific and financial resources behind this.”
Smiley talked about Lilly’s COVID-19 efforts on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Just hours after receiving the emergency designation from the FDA on the evening of November 9, the first 88,000 doses of a 300,000-dose order from the U.S. government were shipped from a plant in New Jersey.
The first two units of the antibody treatment were administered last week to patients at Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville.
Lilly says the treatment should be administered as soon as possible after a COVID-19 test and within 10 days of the onset of symptoms. Lilly’s chief scientific officer, Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, says when given early, the treatment may help patients clear the virus and reduce COVID-related hospitalizations.
Smiley says production of the antibody therapy will ramp up significantly in the months ahead.
Currently, Lilly is utilizing just one plant for production, a Branchburg, NJ facility that has the ability to produce up to one million doses this year. “Next year, we have four more facilities that will come online, so we’ll be able to produce a lot more,” said Smiley.