As Vaccines Become Normal, Covid Treatments Back In Spotlight

Covid-positive Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is receiving monoclonal antibodies — not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The Wall Street Journal covers sparse supply of Roche’s drug tocilizumab, which Stat says is the subject of pressure from the WHO over equitable access issues.

Regeneron: Covid-19 Antibody Treatments Work, But They’re ‘Not The Path Out Of This Pandemic’

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that had tested postiive for Covid-19, his office shared that he was treated with a therapy not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, but one of the few shown to be effective against the virus: monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies such as those made by Regeneron and GlaxoSmithKline won’t work for every Covid-19 patient; mAbs, as they are known, are only available for people age 12 and older and who aren’t hospitalized or severely ill. (Christensen, 8/18)

The Wall Street Journal:
As Delta Variant Spreads, A Covid-19 Treatment Is In Short Supply 

An anti-inflammatory drug used to treat severe cases of Covid-19 is in short supply globally as infections and hospitalizations surge due to the highly transmissible Delta variant. Genentech, a U.S. subsidiary of Roche Holding AG said this week that two dosage strengths of the drug, called tocilizumab, were already out of stock across the U.S., with a lower strength form likely to run out by the end of the week. The Food and Drug Administration added tocilizumab, which is sold in the U.S. under the brand name Actemra, to its drug shortages list on Tuesday. (Roland and Walker, 8/18)

WHO Urges Roche To Ensure Equitable Access Of Covid-19 Treatment

The World Health Organization and Unitaid called on Roche (RHHBY) to ensure that existing doses of its Actemra medicine, which is being used to treat Covid-19 patients, are equally available to low and middle-income countries in the face of a global shortage. In a joint statement, the global health agencies praised the drug maker for addressing the shortage by working with contract manufacturers and distributors to manage production and supplies. But the agencies want the company to transfer technology, as well as share know-how and data, to increase the number of qualified manufacturers. The WHO is soliciting interest from other companies. (Silverman, 8/18)

On innovation in covid drug delivery —

Sacramento Bee:
A Pill For COVID-19? UCSD Scientists Say They’re Able To Deliver Remdesivir In A Capsule

Scientists at University of California, San Diego, have developed a way to put remdesivir and other intravenous COVID-19 treatments into a capsule that patients could safely take orally at home, according to a paper in an online issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. Since the pandemic began, scientists worldwide have been seeking a treatment that people infected with COVID-19 can take before they are so severely ill that they have to go to a hospital, and the need for it remains pressing as many people are opting not to get the vaccine and are falling ill with variants of the respiratory illness. (Anderson, 8/17)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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