Among the Covid-19 treatments given to President Trump last weekend was a cocktail of antibodies against the coronavirus, from
announced that it, too, has a cocktail of two antibodies that helped Covid patients avoid the hospital in a Phase 2 clinical trial.
Lilly (ticker: LLY) has asked federal regulators for an emergency authorization to distribute a treatment that uses a single antibody—a request that it will later make for the cocktail and which is also being sought by Regeneron (REGN).
Lilly stock was up 3% Wednesday morning, to $148, after the drug company released some results from its antibody cocktail trial. Regeneron shares traded in line with the overall market, rising 1% to $589. Shares of
(VIR) on Tuesday jumped when it said that its partner
(GSK) would take their antibody treatment for Covid into Phase 3 trials.
As pivotal trials of Covid vaccines entered the home stretch in recent months, investor interest waned for treatments like the antibody infusions. Then Trump got infected and his doctors gave him several treatments, including remdesivir from
(GILD) and Regeneron’s antibodies. Now analysts are forecasting billions of dollars in sales for antibody treatments—at least in the next year or two, as the world gets itself vaccinated.
Like its single antibody treatment, Lilly’s combination treatment reduced blood levels of the virus in infected patients. The cocktail did a somewhat better job than the single antibody at keeping patients out of the hospital or emergency room.
Lilly is gearing up to manufacture the treatments. It said it would be able to make a million doses of the single antibody during the fourth quarter, and 50,000 doses of the combo.
Vaccines will arrive a bit later than previously expected. This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration disclosed that it wants two months of safety and effectiveness data from vaccine developers like
Johnson & Johnson
(JNJ). That means their submissions for FDA emergency use authorization probably won’t happen before late November.
So Covid-19 treatments like the antibodies will be needed for a while, says Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen, in a Wednesday note. That demand is one reason she rates Lilly at Overweight, with a price target of $185.
Lilly’s update on its antibodies reinforced the enthusiasm of Canaccord Genuity’s John Newman for Regeneron. He foresees high sales for both companies’ treatments in the U.S. and Europe, with demand outstripping supply for a long time. He rates Regeneron a Buy and thinks its stock can reach $700.
Write to Bill Alpert at [email protected]