Thousands of vulnerable health service patients in the UK hospitals due to COVID-19 are set to benefit from a life-saving new antibody treatment called Ronapreve, which was given to former US president Donald Trump.
A combination of two monoclonal antibodies, Ronapreve, will be targeted initially at those in hospital who have not mounted an antibody response against the coronavirus.
The treatment was used as part of the suite of experimental medicines given to Trump when he tested positive for COVID-19 last year.
“We have secured a brand new treatment for our most vulnerable patients in hospitals across the UK and I am thrilled it will be saving lives from as early as next week,” said UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
The drug will be targeted at people who are immunocompromised, for example those with certain cancers or autoimmune diseases, and therefore have difficulty building up an antibody response to the virus, either through being exposed to COVID-19 or from vaccination.
The NHS said that a guidance will shortly be going out to clinicians so they can begin prescribing the treatment as soon as possible.
“Ronapreve is the first dedicated medicine developed for COVID-19 to receive marketing authorisation from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), representing a significant milestone in how the NHS is able to fight this disease,” said Paul McManus, COVID-19 Lead at Roche Products Ltd.
“Together with Regeneron, we’re grateful for the collaboration of the vaccine taskforce and NHS England in helping to bring this important antibody cocktail to treat and prevent acute COVID-19 across the UK,” he said.
Ronapreve is the first neutralising antibody medicine specifically designed to treat COVID-19 to be authorised by the MHRA for use in the UK.
It will be used to treat patients without antibodies to SARS CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, who are either aged 50 and over, or are aged 12 to 49 and are considered to be immunocompromised.
Antibody testing will first be used to determine whether patients are seronegative, meaning those who do not have an adequate existing antibody response, and will therefore receive the treatment.
The treatment antibodies – casirivimab and imdevimab – will then be administered to patients through a drip and work by binding to the virus’ spike protein, stopping it from being able to infect the body’s cells.
The NHS has also rolled out monoclonal immunomodulatory antibody treatments tocilizumab and sarilumab, following clinical trial results from the government-funded REMAP-CAP trial. The treatments were found to reduce the relative risk of death by 24 per cent, when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.
Earlier this year, the UK government brought together a new Antivirals Taskforce to “supercharge” the search for new treatments for patients who are exposed to COVID-19 to stop the infection spreading and speed up recovery time.