A Covid antibody treatment has been approved by the UK’s medicines regulator.
Ronapreve was given the green light by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency after it assessed clinical trial data showing the drug may prevent infection and help reduce hospital admissions. There have been more than 6,000 hospitalisations this week alone.
Ronapreve, which was developed by Roche and Regeneron and can be administered by injection or infusion, is a monoclonal antibody drug that prevents the virus from getting into the cells of respiratory system.
The MHRA stressed it should not be a substitution for vaccination. It is unclear who will receive the treatment, which costs between £1,000 and £2,000 for a single course.
Health secretary Sajid Javid described it as “a significant addition to our armoury to tackle Covid-19."
The MHRA cautioned the drug may cause hypersensitivity reactions such as anaphylaxis and angioedema and urged anyone experiencing these side-effects to “immediately discontinue administration and initiate appropriate medications and/or supportive care".
Other side-effects were observed during trials including nausea, chills, dizziness, rash, urticaria and flushing. Nonetheless, Mr Javid was bullish about this latest addition to the UK's arsenal of coronavirus treatments.
“The UK is considered a world leader in identifying and rolling out life-saving treatments for Covid-19, once they have been proven safe and effective in our government-backed clinical trials,” he said.
“This is fantastic news from the independent medicines regulator and means the UK has approved its first therapeutic designed specifically for Covid-19. This treatment will be a significant addition to our armoury to tackle Covid-19, in addition to our world-renowned vaccination programme and life-saving therapeutics dexamethasone and tocilizumab.
“We are now working at pace with the NHS and expert clinicians to ensure this treatment can be rolled out to NHS patients as soon as possible.”