INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Eli Lilly and Company is ramping up production of its COVID-19 antibody drug now that the FDA has granted the Indianapolis-based company an Emergency Use Authorization. Details about distribution have just been released.
Eighty-eight thousand doses of the antibody drug were shipped to AmerisourceBergen, who will distribute it as directed by the U.S. Government.
The medicine has to stay cold. It has to be refrigerated just like produce or milk. Lilly is able to pack it in a cool compartment and then it arrives at the designated state that same day or within 24 hours.
The government is responsible for the appropriate distribution to state and territory health departments based on COVID-19 rates. The health departments will provide the distributor with a list of selected cities of care to receive the designated doses each week.
Lilly began production in March. There were two things most important to the company. First, that the medicine would go to the people who need it the most and second, that it would be free for patients who need it.
“I think about people who have chronic medical conditions, diabetes, cancer or are immunosuppressed for one reason or the other and they are living in fear, which is rightfully so of getting this virus and having a terrible outcome,” Eli Lilly and Company Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Daniel Skovronsky said. “If we could save some of those people from the bad outcomes that this virus can cause that’s why we started this project. I am hoping we’re going to see that impact now that it becomes more broadly available.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Illinois is getting the most vials this week, with more than 6,300 needed. The need is less in Indiana, 2,700 vials are expected in the first week.
Lilly has been studying this drug for eight months and tested it with at least 2,000 patients. As of now, there are no safety concerns. The goal is to have 300,000 doses shipped by the end of November.