Regeneron says COVID-19 antibody cocktail may be available by fall

(Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN.O said on Tuesday it was possible its experimental antibody cocktail for COVID-19 may be available for use by the end of summer or fall as it ramps up efforts to start human trials in June.

The company is one of the many drugmakers looking to tackle COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus that has no current approved treatment or vaccine and has claimed over 250,000 lives worldwide.

Regeneron is developing an antibody cocktail with the aim to make clinical data available within a month or two after starting the studies and scale up its manufacturing to produce 200,000 doses per month by the end of summer.

The company’s shares rose 6% to $574.98 in late morning trade.

“The hope is it might be possible by the end of the summer or the fall that our antibody treatment could be available,” Regeneron co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoulos said on a conference call.

“A lot of risks, a lot of concerns, but we are working as hard as we can with so many collaborators to try to turn that into a reality,” he added.

The drugmaker said it would test the antibody cocktail in three different settings to assess its effectiveness in early stages of the disease, hospitalized patients with severe disease as well as in preventing infection.

Regeneron is also testing its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kevzara, in the sickest coronavirus patients, banking on the theory that it could help regulate a dangerous overreaction by the body’s immune system, which may be triggering the respiratory distress seen in severe cases.

Regeneron also beat quarterly profit estimates on Tuesday after demand for its blockbuster eye drug, Eylea, saw little impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Widespread lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the outbreak have prompted patients to reschedule their hospital visits, hitting sales of rival eye drug Lucentis, jointly developed by Novartis NOVN.S and Roche ROG.S.

With a nearly 15% decline in Eylea demand in April, Regeneron expects its second quarter to take the biggest hit from the COVID-19 outbreak and said it was encouraged by a recent rebound in demand for its hospital-administered drugs.

Global Eylea sales rose 6.3% to $1.85 billion during the quarter.

Excluding items, Regeneron earned $6.60 per share, while its revenue rose 33.2% to $1.83 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $6.13 per share on revenue of $1.76 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting By Saumya Sibi Joseph and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Maju Samuel