Eli Lilly’s Antibody Therapy Cuts Covid-19 Hospitalization By 70%

Eli Lilly & Co. said new data showed that treatment with two of its antibody therapies lowered COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in high-risk patients by 70%.

Specifically, Lilly (LLY) said that the results of the Phase 3 trial testing the treatment of bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) and etesevimab (LY-CoV016) together met the primary endpoint. Among the 1,035 patients, there were 11 events, or 2.1% in patients treated with the therapy and 36 events, or 7% in patients taking placebo, representing a 70% risk reduction. There were 10 deaths among patients taking placebo, and no deaths in patients taking bamlanivimab and etesevimab together.

“Bamlanivimab and etesevimab together also demonstrated statistically significant improvements on all key secondary endpoints, providing strong evidence that the therapy reduced viral load and accelerated symptom resolution,” the drugmaker said. Bamlanivimab is a potent, neutralizing IgG1 monoclonal antibody (mAb) directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. It is designed to block viral attachment and entry into human cells, thus neutralizing the virus, potentially preventing and treating COVID-19.

“These exciting results, which replicate positive Phase 2 data in a much larger set of patients, add valuable clinical evidence about the role neutralizing antibodies can play in fighting this pandemic. While the preliminary nature of Phase 2 results from COVID-19 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies may have limited acceptance of treatment, these Phase 3 data further strengthen the available evidence,” said Lilly’s chief scientific officer Daniel Skovronsky. “These data further support our belief that bamlanivimab and etesevimab together have the potential to be an important treatment that significantly reduces hospitalizations and death in high-risk COVID-19 patients.”

“Bamlanivimab alone is authorized for emergency use as a treatment for high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 in the US. and widely available for use,” Skovronsky added. (See Eli Lilly’s stock analysis on TipRanks).

Mizuho analyst Vamil Divan believes that the released data “should support FDA Emergency Use Authorization for the combo and further boost Lilly’s sales and earnings for 2021 (and potentially 2022).” However, Divan, who has a $222 price target on the stock with a Buy rating, added that it is “not likely a driver of the long-term investment thesis on the stock.”

“We expect the combination to play an important role in treating patients over the next several months/quarters until the COVID-19 vaccines are more broadly administered and the pandemic starts to be brought under control,” the analyst wrote in a note to investors. “We continue to recommend Lilly shares on the back of a well-diversified product story that is poised to deliver above market topline and bottom-line growth over the next decade, with further upside possible in the coming weeks as the full Phase 2 donanemab data are presented on March 13.”

Shares of LLY, which have advanced 28% over the past month, are up 53% over the past year. Meanwhile, Wall Street analysts have a cautiously optimistic Moderate Buy consensus on the stock. That’s with an average analyst price target of $194.90, indicating 8.4% downside potential lies ahead over the coming year.

Meanwhile on TipRanks’ Smart Score system, LLY scores a 9 out of 10, implying that the stock has strong potential to outperform market expectations.

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