Washington — Dr. Leonard Schleifer, the founder and CEO of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which developed the antibody cocktail heralded by President Trump, estimated Sunday that a $450 million contract the company won from the federal government over the summer will secure roughly 300,000 doses of the treatment.
“They bought from us several hundred thousand, maybe around 300,000 doses, which they are going to make it for free,” Schleifer said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “We can’t do this alone. We need the entire industry.”
The Trump administration announced in July it signed a $450 million contract with Regeneron to supply the treatment. But with the number of new coronavirus cases outpacing the doses of the drug available, Schleifer conceded the federal government, together with ethics experts at the Food and Drug Administration, will have to decide who receives the limited supply.
“Coming up with a distribution system where we take what’s limited, and we try and give it to the people who most need it, who would most benefit from it — the vulnerable people, elderly people, people who are at high risk, household contacts perhaps,” he said. “We have to figure out ways to ration this.”
Mr. Trump was given a single dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail while he was being treated for COVID-19 and has gone on to praise the treatment, officially known as REGN-COV2, as a “cure” for the virus.
But the treatment has yet to undergo a peer-reviewed drug trial and has only been given to 10 people outside of clinical trials.
Schleifer called Mr. Trump’s case a “case report” and said while it is evidence of how the drug worked, it’s the “weakest evidence that you can get.”
“The real evidence has to come — about how good a drug is and what it will do on average — has to come from these large clinical trials, these randomized clinical trials, which are the gold standard,” he said.
Regeneron applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA, and if it’s granted, the government has agreed “to making these doses available to the American people at no cost.”
How does Regeneron’s therapy work?
REN-COV2 is described as a drug cocktail because it consists of two antibodies designed to be particularly attractive to the coronavirus. The idea is that the antibodies will bind to the surface of the virus, stopping it from attaching to other healthy cells in the body. One of the antibodies comes from people who have contracted COVID-19 and recovered; the other comes from mice that have been injected with COVID-19.
Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News’ chief medical correspondent, has said the antibody cocktail makes “scientific sense”