Government approves expanded use of COVID-19 antibody treatment

Courtesy of Chugai Pharmaceutical Co.
Vials containing an antibody cocktail treatment

The government approved Friday the expanded use of the Ronapreve antibody cocktail as a treatment to prevent the risk of infection with novel coronavirus.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry formally approved the treatment after a special committee of the ministry gave it the green light on Thursday.

The use of the treatment will be limited to close contacts such as family members or people living with someone infected with coronavirus; people at high risk of serious illness; and people who have not been vaccinated or for whom the vaccination has not provided a sufficient level of protection.

The antibody cocktail, which was first approved in July to treat patients with mild to moderate symptoms, had been limited to intravenous infusion. In future, the treatment will also be administered in four injections in the abdomen or thigh.

The number of medical institutions offering the treatment is expected to increase as it can be administered in a short time at outpatient clinics.

According to Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., which is marketing the product in Japan, the treatment cut the risk of symptomatic infections by 81% in an overseas trial involving people who lived in the same household as an infected patient.

The treatment has already been approved for emergency use in the United States.

Ronapreve was the first treatment to receive special approval in Japan. Initially, it was limited to inpatients, but the conditions were later relaxed so that it could be administered at overnight and outpatient facilities.

The government has secured 500,000 doses of the treatment.

About 36,000 patients at about 2,100 medical institutions nationwide had received the treatment as of Thursday.