Japan panel OKs use of antibody cocktail to prevent COVID-19

A health ministry panel Thursday approved the use of Chugai Pharmaceutical Co.’s antibody cocktail Ronapreve to prevent COVID-19 infection.

The ministry has so far limited the use of the antibody cocktail treatment to coronavirus sufferers with mild to medium symptoms.

The ministry will give its formal approval for expanding the use of Ronapreve, the combination of casirivimab and imdevimab, under fast-track procedures as early as Friday.

Ronapreve is expected to be the country’s first novel coronavirus prophylactic drug that can be administered to carriers without symptoms and close contacts with infected people.

But among such carriers and close contacts, the antibody cocktail will be administered only to those living with people at risk of developing severe symptoms, those who have not been vaccinated and those who have failed to acquire enough immune protection through vaccinations, according to ministry officials.

The panel also approved the administration of the drug by subcutaneous injection, in addition to the currently approved intravenous administration.

According to Chugai Pharmaceutical, an overseas clinical trial targeting coronavirus close contacts has found that the drug lowered the risk of symptomatic infections by 81%.

The use of Ronapreve in Japan was first approved in July. The drug has been administered to some 36,000 people in the country.

The use of the drug was initially limited to inpatients but was expanded to include outpatients and people receiving treatment at home in stages from late August.

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