Ministry signs contract to buy long-acting antibody drug

Ministry signs contract to buy long-acting antibody drug

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and senior health officials pose with representatives from AstraZeneca during the signing of a procurement agreement for 257,500 doses of the long-acting antibody drug Evusheld. (Photo: AstraZeneca)
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and senior health officials pose with representatives from AstraZeneca during the signing of a procurement agreement for 257,500 doses of the long-acting antibody drug Evusheld. (Photo: AstraZeneca)

The Ministry of Public Health on Wednesday signed a procurement agreement with AstraZeneca for 257,500 doses of the long-acting antibody drug Evusheld, which boosts Covid-19 immunity in patients with low immunity levels.

The first group of beneficiaries is expected to be patients living with kidney disease.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the ministry was intent on maintaining a balance of medical resources to combat Covid-19, especially a stockpile of vaccines and medical treatments. There was enough vaccine in stock. The vaccine from AstraZeneca was the country’s main Covid-19 vaccine during the pandemic and will be the booster vaccine for the next year, he said.

To save on costs, the Department of Disease Control negotiated with AstraZeneca to swop some vaccine for the long-acting antibody drug. This meant a saving of over 120 million baht.

“We expect to get the first batch of 7,000 sets this month. This injectable drug will help protect our valuable population from the disease as well as treat them for the infection. We would like to thank the company for its full support during the pandemic, which is going to be endemic shortly,” Mr Anutin said. 

Evusheld was originally named of AZD7442. According to the company, it is suitable for immunocompromised people unable to mount an adequate response from a vaccine due to poor health or medication they take that suppresses their immune system, and patients with organ transplants.

The Food and Drug Administration last week approved the use of Evusheld for Covid-19 prevention in a broad population of adults and children aged 12 years and older and weighting at least 40 kilogrammes, no matter their Covid-19 vaccination status.

“As we transition from pandemic to endemic, AstraZeneca remains committed to ensuring that no one in need of ongoing Covid-19 protection is left behind," James Teague, country president, AstraZeneca (Thailand) Ltd, said in the press statement.

"The long-acting antibody combination provides people at high-risk of Covid-19 infection with another important prevention option alongside vaccination. While vaccines remain a critically important tool to reduce severe Covid-19 outcomes, some vulnerable populations are unable to develop adequate protection from vaccine alone.”

According to data from the University of Oxford, the antibody combination retains its neutralizing activity against Omicron sub variants, BA.4/BA.5, and all other variants of concern. Additionally, results from the PROVENT Phase III pre=exposure prophylaxis (prevention) trail published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that AZD7442 reduced the risk of developing symptomatic Covid-19 compared to placebo by 77% in the primary analysis, and by 83% in the six-month follow-up analysis.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, chief of the Department of Disease Control, said that patients living with kidney disease will be the first group to get the medicine, based on an economic evaluation, but it could be expanded to use with other groups of patients based on experts’ recommendations - such as patients who have organ transplants.

AstraZeneca intends to submit a request to the FDA for the drug's use for medical treatment, not just for disease prevention.

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