CVS to give free coronavirus antibody drug to eligible patients in pilot program

CVS was picked by the Department of Health and Human Services to give free doses of an antibody drug to eligible coronavirus patients either in their home or long-term care facilities. Under the pilot program, Coram, a specialty pharmacy and infusion care business under CVS Health, will be administering 1,000 doses of bamlanivimab to patients in seven cities beginning Dec. 3.

Bamlanivimab, an investigational monoclonal antibody treatment produced by Eli Lilly, was granted emergency approval for use in patients with mild to moderate coronavirus by the FDA in early November. The company recommends that the treatment be given to patients as soon as possible after a positive diagnosis and within about 10 days of symptoms.

It is not approved for hospitalized coronavirus patients, or those requiring oxygen due to the disease. Patients eligible for the free treatment through CVS will have to be at least 12 years of age, within 10 days of symptom onset, cannot be hospitalized, at high-risk for progressing to severe disease and or hospitalization, and weigh at least 88.2 pounds. Hospitals, urgent care facilities, primary care physicians or long-term care facilities can refer patients for the program.

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“These newly available, important COVID-19 treatments can make a difference for patients at high risk for severe illness or complications, but they need to be administered intravenously by health care providers and with appreciate clinical expertise and oversight,” Sree Chaguturu, M.D., chief medical officer, CVS Caremark and senior vice president, CVS Health, said in a press release. “Our Coram model allows us to meet patients where they are during the pandemic by delivering safe, clinically appropriate home-based care, and we stand ready to deploy our teams when and where the need is greatest as supply of these new monoclonal antibody treatments ramp up over the coming year.”

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The seven cities that will partake in the program include Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Tampa. Rapid increases in coronavirus cases in these regions were noted in CVS’s press release.

CVS Pharmacy in the Seaport District in Boston, Massachusetts. (Staff photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

“Following the pilot, and as drug supply increase, Coram will scale this solution to additional markets in areas of greatest need,” the press release said.

The press release also said CVS is working with HHS and Operation Warp Speed to formulate plans for vaccine distribution once one becomes available.

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