U.S. health officials begin allowing emergency use of Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment to help fight COVID-19


(WTNH) — U.S. health officials have allowed the emergency use of an antibody treatment to help those fighting COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration recently cleared the experimental drug from Eli Lilly for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and children, who are 12 and older and who are at-risk for getting progressively worse.

“I can’t tell you if it’s definitively a game-changer since it’s early on in the stages, but that’s what we’re hoping,” said Dr. Jared Kohlhepp, an ER physician at Bristol Hospital. “Essentially, what it does is, it’s an antibody that we can administer to patients who are ill from COVID-19, but not so ill that they need to be hospitalized.” 

Doses are being distributed to hospitals across Connecticut. The State Department of Public Health told News 8 Connecticut received 600 doses last week and 420 doses this week. Kohlhepp administered the first dose of the antibody treatment at Bristol Hospital.

“He tested positive for COVID-19 one week ago and his symptoms had acutely worsened with some shortness of breath, fever, headaches,” explained Kohlhepp. “It’s good for patients who are older and who have specific comorbidities, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung diseases like asthma and COPD.”

Early results suggest the drug may help patients clear the virus and reduce COVID-related hospitalizations.

But the therapy is still undergoing additional testing to establish its safety and effectiveness. Some of the possible side effects include nausea, dizziness, and headache.

“We monitor the patient for any allergic reaction to the medication, which is why it should be administered in the emergency department so that we can administer any medications as needed if they have an adverse reaction to it,” said Kohlhepp.

Lilly anticipates manufacturing up to one-million doses by the end of 2020.

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