An antibody drug approved by Health Canada facilitated by a Vancouver biotech company to treat COVID-19 has been rejected in British Columbia.
The drug, Bamlanivimab, is produced by United States’ pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly using technology from AbCellera Biologics.
In November, the antibody drug was given emergency approval as a COVID-19 treatment in Canada and the United States. Bamlanivimab is administered by using a three-hour intravenous infusion and the drug is targeted at people prone to developing acute symptoms and getting respirated.
The spokesperson of Eli Lilly Canada, Michael McDougall said the company forwarded 17,000 doses of bamlanivimab to “various federal, provincial and territorial sites” in Canada between December 23 and January 6.
The drug is shipped and warehoused between two and eight degree Celcius and can last for up to two weeks after it is taken out of refrigeration.
McDougall revealed allocation from the delivery sites hinges on Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial and territorial health authorities. The drug is available in few U.S. states.
So far, Health Canada has approved two drugs for treatment of COVID-19 — Remdesivir and Bamlanivimab.
Remdesivir was first approved and the Remdesivir Review and Advisory Working Group decided on how it should be used in British Columbia.
B.C. Ministry of Health spokesperson, Devon Smith said the remdesivir working group was also examining bamlanivimab and was recommending it should not be used.
Smith said: “Bamlanivimab has little published evidence of clinical benefit and very limited safety data.
“The required resources to administer outpatient infusions for individuals with confirmed COVID-19 at the peak of their infectivity, while being able to monitor and manage infusion reactions, is not presently available.
“Concentrating COVID-19 patients at established Emergency Departments or medical day units to receive infusions is not advised. Should further evidence become available that more strongly supports clinical benefit (e.g., in long-term care patients), the role of bamlanivimab will be reassessed by (the working group.)”