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Japan health ministry OKs use of neutralizing antibody for COVID treatment

This electron microscope photo provided by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases shows the coronavirus isolated at the facility. (Photo Courtesy of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases)

TOKYO -- Japan's health ministry on Sept. 27 gave the green light for the use of the monoclonal neutralizing antibody sotrovimab developed by major British pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline K.K. for COVID-19 treatment after an expert committee OKed a fast-track approval for the drug earlier that day.

    This is the fifth product in Japan approved by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for COVID-19 treatment, and second for patients showing mild to moderate symptoms after a so-called antibody cocktail, or a combination of the two neutralizing antibody drugs casirivimab and imdevimab, sold under the name of Ronapreve by Chugai Pharmaceutical Co.

    Sotrovimab, under the brand name of Xevudy, is an infection-fighting neutralizing antibody administered via an IV drip. Of the mild to moderate COVID-19 patients who don't require oxygen administration, those with higher risks of developing severe cases will be subject to sotrovimab treatment.

    It was confirmed during a clinical trial overseas that the antibody was responsible for reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths by some 80%. The drug is also likely to have certain effects on mutant coronavirus variants including the highly transmissible delta strain.

    Sotrovimab has been approved for emergency use in the United States. GlaxoSmithKline on Sept. 6 filed for the antibody's domestic production and sales in Japan with the health ministry.

    (Japanese original by Hidenori Yazawa, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

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