U.S. FDA authorizes Eli Lilly's COVID-19 antibody drug

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Eli Lilly logo is shown on one of the company's offices in San Diego, California, U.S., September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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Feb 11 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized Eli Lilly and Co's (LLY.N) COVID-19 antibody drug for people aged 12 and older at risk of severe illness, adding a tool that has been found to work against the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The FDA authorized bebtelovimab for emergency use in patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of progression to severe disease, including hospitalization or death.

Bebtelovimab should be used when alternative COVID-19 treatment options approved or authorized by the FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate, the agency said.

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The U.S. health regulator had in January revised the emergency use authorizations for Lilly's antibody combination treatment and a rival therapy from Regeneron (REGN.O) after the drugs were found to be ineffective against the Omicron variant.

Lilly has said bebtelovimab retains activity against Omicron as well as its BA. 2 subvariant, which is said to be more transmissible.

The company on Thursday signed a supply deal with the U.S. government for up to 600,000 doses of bebtelovimab to be delivered by the end of March.

Bebtelovimab was originally discovered by AbCellera Biologics (ABCL.O) and later licensed and developed by Eli Lilly.

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Reporting by Amruta Khandekar; Editing by Aditya Soni

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