British Columbia rejects Health Canada-approved antibody drug for Covid-19

11 January 2021 (Last Updated January 11th, 2021 14:13)

British Columbia (BC) has rejected a Health Canada-approved antibody drug, bamlanivimab, for treating Covid-19 citing very limited safety data.

British Columbia rejects Health Canada-approved antibody drug for Covid-19
Bamlanivimab has received emergency approval for treating Covid-19 in the US as well as in Canada. Credit: Tumisu from Pixabay.

British Columbia (BC) has rejected a Health Canada-approved antibody drug, bamlanivimab, for treating Covid-19 citing very limited safety data.

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly developed bamlanivimab using AbCellera Biologics’ technology.

In November, the drug received emergency approval for treating Covid-19 in the US as well as in Canada, Vancouver Sun reported.

Administered using a three-hour intravenous infusion, the drug is aimed at individuals at the risk of developing severe symptoms and being respirated.

The newspaper quoted Eli Lilly Canada spokesperson Michael McDougall as saying that between 23 December last year and 6 January, the company delivered 17,000 doses of the drug to various federal, provincial and territorial sites in Canada.

McDougall added that the Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial and territorial health authorities were responsible for allocation of the drug from the delivery site.

To date, Health Canada has approved remdesivir and bamlanivimab for treating Covid-19.

Remdesivir is an antiviral that was the first to obtain approval and the Remdesivir Review and Advisory Working Group was convened to decide on its usage in BC.

BC Ministry of Health spokesperson Devon Smith said that the remdesivir working group was also looking at bamlanivimab and advising against its usage.

Smith added: “Bamlanivimab has little published evidence of clinical benefit and very limited safety data.”

Furthermore, the Ministry noted that at present, the resources needed to administer outpatient infusions for Covid-19-infected people at the peak of their infectivity, while monitoring and analysing infusion reactions, are not available.

Remdesivir is not recommended for use in people aged above 12 and for those who are sick but do not need oxygen or ventilation.