Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. grabbed headlines in 2020 for its dual antibody cocktail as a treatment of COVID-19. The New York-based drug company started developing its coronavirus treatment early in the pandemic. As a part of Operation Warp Speed, Regeneron received $450 million in funding to develop its antiviral medication.
At first, the treatment was only available in clinical trials. President Trump received the drug cocktail as part of his COVID-19 treatment in the fall of 2020. In November 2020, the FDA granted emergency authorization to use the drug on COVID-19 patients.
The latest reports from clinical trials, reported by The Wall Street Journal, said that Regeneron’s treatment was 70 percent effective in reducing patients’ risk of hospitalization or death from the virus. These results were from a Phase 3 study.
In the higher-dose group in that study, 1.3 percent of the patients taking the drug were hospitalized or died compared to 4.6 percent of the placebo group, which equals a 71 percent reduction of risk.
The FDA has updated the data on Regeneron’s drug to note that it's equally effective against the newer coronavirus variants emerging in the U.K. and South Africa. Regeneron is also testing a version of the drug that can be administered through one injection instead of an intravenous infusion, which is currently required.
How to invest in Regeneron
Currently, Regeneron stock is available for trading on the Nasdaq Exchange under the ticker symbol "REGN." The company makes other drugs besides the monoclonal antibody cocktail REGEN-COV. So, it might be a good choice for investors regardless of the success of this new drug. For example, Regeneron's eye injection Eylea is meant to prevent blindness.
Regeneron's antibody treatment
The antibody treatment called REGEN-COV is available via emergency authorization by the FDA. It's a combination treatment of casirivimab and imdevimab that must be administered together. The antibody treatment is only authorized for use in patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
According to Regeneron’s website, antibodies are “Y-shaped proteins produced by the human body as part of a normal immune response to foreign molecules.” Antibody treatments mimic the body’s natural immune responses to viruses and bacteria.
Some people have claimed that the Regeneron treatment was made using fetal stem cells, but Regeneron has refuted that claim. Cells from an “immortalized epithelial cell line...derived from embryonic kidney cells obtained in 1972” were used in developing the drug cocktail.
The actual antibody cocktail was made using antibodies from survivors of COVID-19 as well as from “immunized mice engineered with a human immune system,” according to USAToday.
Regeneron is developing a pipeline of clinical-stage medicines. Its therapeutic areas include cardiovascular/metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, oncology, opthalmology, rare diseases, and more. Various treatments that Regeneron has developed in its laboratories are in Phases 1, 2, or 3.
Roche is a distributor of Regeneron treatments outside of the U.S. as of August 2020. “Roche will be primarily responsible for securing regulatory approvals outside the U.S.” Their collaboration was formed with the intention of increasing the supply of Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody cocktail to 3.5 times the capacity at that time.