HHS enlists CVS to pilot administering Eli Lilly's antibody drug to high-risk patients

The front entrance of a CVS Pharmacy
The Trump administration has enlisted CVS to pilot administering Eli Lilly's antibody therapy for COVID-19 to high-risk patients. (Eric Glenn/Shutterstock.com)

The Trump administration has purchased an additional 650,000 doses of Eli Lilly's antibody treatment for COVID-19 and enlisted CVS Health to pilot administering the therapy to patients in long-term care facilities and at home. 

Eli Lilly will deliver the $812.5 million in doses through Jan. 31, 2021, with at least 350,000 to be delivered by the end of December, the drugmaker announced Wednesday. Its neutralizing antibody therapy bamlanivimab was given emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in November. 

“Given the significant increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the U.S., we are doing everything possible to quickly provide more bamlanivimab doses to Americans,” said David Ricks, Lilly’s CEO, in a statement. 

To date, the feds have purchased 950,000 doses of the drug. 

RELATED: Operation Warp Speed pushing to vaccinate 100M against COVID-19 by end of February 

The federal government will oversee the administration of the drug and will base weekly allocations on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in states or territories in that seven-day window, Eli Lilly said in the announcement. 

Alongside the news that the administration had purchased the drug, CVS Health announced that it had signed on with the Department of Health and Human Services for a pilot to administer the drug to severely at-risk patients in long-term care facilities or at home. 

CVS will participate in the pilot under Coram, its specialty pharmacy and infusion business. Coram will begin administering 1,000 doses of the drug on Thursday in seven cities and the surrounding areas where COVID cases are rising: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Tampa. 

To be eligible for the pilot, patients must not be hospitalized, be within 10 days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, at least 12 years of age and at high-risk for an escalation of symptoms, CVS said. Patients can be referred to the program following a positive diagnosis, and the treatment will be available at no out-of-pocket cost. 

“These newly available, important COVID-19 treatments can make a difference for patients at high risk for severe illness or complications, but they need to be administered intravenously by health care providers and with the appropriate clinical expertise and oversight,” said Sree Chaguturu, M.D., chief medical officer at CVS Caremark and senior vice president and CVS Health, in a statement.  

“Our Coram model allows us to meet patients where they are during the pandemic by delivering safe, clinically appropriate home-based care, and we stand ready to deploy our teams when and where the need is greatest as supply of these new monoclonal antibody treatments ramp up over the coming year,” Chaguturu said.