New therapies for COVID-19 available at Norton Healthcare

Options help prevent patients from needing hospitalization

Providers at Norton Healthcare now have additional therapies available to help prevent the progression of COVID-19 in people who are at risk for severe illness from the virus.

One, an antibody cocktail utilizing casirivimab and imdevimab, also known as REGEN-COV2 and commonly referred to as Regeneron’s antibody cocktail in reference to the manufacturer, received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November.

Another therapy, bamlanivimab, also received EUA in November.

“Both of these treatments are given to patients who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, but do not require hospitalization,” said Joseph M. Flynn, D.O., MPH, FACP, chief administrative officer of Norton Medical Group and physician-in-chief of Norton Cancer Institute. “Each has different uses, but can be very helpful in either helping a body’s immune system respond in fighting COVID-19 in the case of the Regeneron drug, or in helping the body block the virus, as in the case of bamlanivimab.

“Our goal is to be able to keep people from having to be hospitalized if possible, and prevent the virus from becoming more serious.”

Patients at highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 are those who have a high body mass index (over 35) or chronic illness such as kidney disease or diabetes, or are over age 55 and have chronic diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure or respiratory illnesses. Patients who are immunosuppressed also may be eligible, as well as children over 12 who have issues including certain heart, developmental or respiratory issues.

“We’re very optimistic about these new options, and continue looking for other ways in which we can help patients,” Dr. Flynn said. “While there has been exciting news on the vaccine front, we know that we’re still going to have people getting sick with COVID-19 for quite some time. We want to bring any of the newest treatment options we can to the community.”

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Norton Healthcare has become an international leader in research surrounding treatments and therapies for patients with COVID-19.

Locally, Norton Healthcare was the first to begin a clinical trial to evaluate the use of convalescent plasma which is taken from blood donated by fully recovered COVID-19 patients to treat current critically ill patients. It was also one of the first locations in the country to study convalescent plasma as a therapy to prevent a high-risk patient with COVID-19 from getting seriously ill.

In the world of medication clinical trials, Norton Healthcare was the first in the world to enroll COVID-19 patients in trials for the drugs selinexor, APL-9 and acalabrutinib. The research teams also have been part of a clinical trial around a COVID-19 vaccine.

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