U.K. Drug Regulator Approves First Drug to Treat Coronavirus

The first drug which effectively treats coronavirus has been approved by the U.K.’s medicines regulator and is being introduced “as soon as possible” on the NHS. No, it’s not ivermectin. It’s Ronapreve, the same drug, or combination of drugs, used to treat Donald Trump last year. The Times has more.

Ronapreve uses man-made antibodies and prevents the worst symptoms of the virus. The drug is either injected or given through a drip and acts at the lining of the respiratory system where it binds tightly to the virus and prevents it from gaining access to cells.

In June, a large U.K. trial involving nearly 10,000 people found the drug cut the risk of death by about 20% in hospital patients whose bodies were not making antibodies to fight coronavirus.

Donald Trump hailed the treatment as a “cure” and a “blessing from God” after he received an experimental drug cocktail in October last year. It was given emergency authorisation in the US the following month and is thought to cost between £1,000 and £2,000 per person.

Martin Landray, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, at Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, said: “It combines two antibodies that bind to different places on the coronavirus spike protein, preventing uptake by cells and accelerating clearance of the virus. The rationale for combining two different antibodies is that if a viral variant prevented one drug from binding to the spike protein, the other would still be effective – a ‘belt and braces’ approach.

“This licensing decision is an important step forward. There have been a number of trials in the out-of-hospital setting, each with positive results – reducing viral clearance and reducing the risk of hospitalisation. There have been no major safety concerns.

“The challenge going forward will be in determining which patients should be prioritised for this treatment.”

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said Ronapreve may be used to prevent infection, promote resolution of symptoms of acute COVID-19 infection and reduce the chances of being admitted to hospital.

Worth reading in full.

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