Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 drug gets emergency use approval in Canada

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Eli Lilly's COVID-19 drug gets emergency use approval in Canada
Eli Lilly's COVID-19 drug gets emergency use approval in Canada

Health Canada has approved the use of an antibody drug developed by Vancouver company AbCellera Biologics to help treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.

The move comes as AbCellera — which has formed a partnership with U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to produce and distribute the drug — revealed last Friday that it planned to go public on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol ABCL.

In a prepared statement, AbCellera founder and chief executive Carl Hansen said Health Canada had granted authorization for the use of bamlanivimab to treat people over the age of 12 with mild and moderate COVID-19 symptoms who were at high risk of the disease progressing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency-use authorization for bamlanivimab on Nov. 9. Lilly anticipates manufacturing one million doses before the end of the year, and has already reached a deal with the U.S. government for 300,000 doses.

AbCellera is entitled to receive a specified percentage of proceeds that Lilly receives from these sales.

“As a Canadian company, we are proud to contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 and hope our efforts will help people in Canada and around the world in the face of this medical emergency,” said Hansen, a former UBC professor who owns 26 per cent of the private company.

According to Bloomberg News, AbCellera is expected to be worth several billion dollars after it is publicly listed.

Eli Lilly struck a deal with AbCellera last March to co-develop antibody drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19, using Abcellera’s technology that quickly identifies immune cells that can be replicated and used to attack infections.

AbCellera researchers used a blood sample from one of the earliest COVID-19 survivors from the U.S. to get their work started.

The company’s antibody discovery platform provides “lab-on-a-chip” technology to help biopharmaceutical companies identify next-generation drug candidates.

The Eli Lilly/AbCellera venture has reported reduced viral load and rates of symptoms and hospitalizations in a trial on 800 patients.

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