Regeneron CEO hopes to have coronavirus treatment ready for human testing possibly by this summer
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Regeneron CEO Leonard Schleifer told CNBC on Tuesday that the pharmaceutical company hopes to have its coronavirus treatment produced and ready for human testing possibly by August.
“How quickly that can deployed will depend on some of the early data that we have, some animal data, what we will see in patients,” Schleifer said on “The Exchange.” “I think that we can get a lot done very quickly.”
Regeneron, which developed an effective treatment for Ebola, has started the immunization process with its genetically engineered mice, Schleifer said. The mice are altered to have human immune systems.
“We already have tubes with lots of antibodies in them. Over the course of the next weeks we’re going to screen them for the best couple that we think could block this virus,” said Schleifer, who founded Regeneron in 1988.
“Then we’re going to use our tricks to immediately get it into scale up and be making 200,000 prophylactic doses by August time frame,” he added.
Understanding the urgency with which the coronavirus needs to be confronted, Schleifer said Regeneron will be pursuing clinical trials and drug manufacturing at once.
“We can do this in parallel,” he said. “As soon as we get a green light that it looks good, we’ll be able to deploy those large-scale approaches.”
Regeneron was one of about 10 companies that attended a meeting Monday at the White House to discuss progress on treatments for the coronavirus, which has continued to spread across the world.
There are at least 91,300 cases globally and at least 3,110 deaths. In the U.S., there are at least 108 cases and at least nine deaths.
Regeneron, which is developing its drug in agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, is not the only company pursuing a treatment for the coronavirus. Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Therapeutics and Sanofi Pasteur also are doing so.
Dr. John Shiver, Sanofi Pasteur’s senior vice president of global vaccine research and development, on Monday warned against overconfidence in developing a coronavirus vaccine. Regeneron is developing a treatment, not a vaccine.
“We think there are good tools and approaches at hand that will find success, but we should not be too overconfident that this can happen quickly,” Shiver told CNBC.
Both Shiver and Schleifer said pharmaceutical companies have acted cooperatively. The companies aren’t competing against each other, Schleifer said, but instead are battling the coronavirus.
Schleifer also said Regeneron was committed to making its drug affordable for patients.
“It doesn’t do us any good, if we want to save lives, to make something that’s not affordable,” he said. “We will make this drug affordable.”