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COVID antibody treatment gets wider-use approval from Japan health ministry panel

The IV-administered antibody cocktail Ronapreve is seen in Yodogawa Ward, Osaka, on Aug. 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Satoshi Hishida)

TOKYO -- A Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare expert committee approved on Nov. 4 the expanded use of Ronapreve, an antibody cocktail used to prevent COVID-19 patients developing serious cases of the disease, for application in infection prevention and on symptomless coronavirus cases.

    Treatment was originally limited only to administration via intravenous drip. Now the expert committee has also approved its use via subcutaneous injection. In response, the health ministry is expected to soon give its approval.

    Ronapreve is a combination of the two neutralizing antibody drugs, casirivimab and imdevimab. At present it is approved for administration via IV drip to patients in Japan who have mild or medium-level symptoms and who present a risk of developing heavier symptoms. Its efficacy has been newly approved also for reducing the risk of developing symptoms among infected individuals with no symptoms and those who have had close contact with someone carrying the coronavirus. Chugai Pharmaceutical Co, which manufactures and sells the drug in Japan, applied for the expanded usage approvals in October.

    According to the company, in clinical trials abroad, when Ronapreve was administered to people in the same household who were not infected but had been in close contact with someone who was, the risk of developing symptoms that accompany infection was reduced by 81%. Tests giving the treatment to asymptomatic people reportedly showed a 31% reduced risk of symptoms emerging.

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

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