Government of Canada signs new agreement for a COVID-19 antibody therapy

News release

November 24, 2020 - Gatineau, Quebec - Public Services and Procurement Canada

The Government of Canada is taking steps to provide Canadians with effective therapies as part of its response to COVID-19.

Today, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced that the Government of Canada has signed an agreement with Eli Lilly for an initial order of up to 26,000 doses of their COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy Bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555).

Under the agreement, deliveries of Bamlanivimab will begin in December 2020 and be completed in February 2021. Beginning in March 2021, Canada will have the option to purchase additional allocations, based on the current medical need in Canada and the global product availability.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. Bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) is a monoclonal antibody designed to block the virus from attaching to and entering human cells, thus potentially preventing the virus from causing COVID-19 illness.

Eli Lilly co-developed this therapy with AbCellera Biologics, a Vancouver-based technology company that searches, decodes and analyzes natural immune systems to find antibodies that can be developed to prevent and treat disease. The partnership combines AbCellera’s advanced antibody therapy discovery platform with Eli Lilly’s development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities.

Health Canada received Eli Lilly’s application for authorization on October 12, 2020, under the Interim Order for COVID-19 drugs, and authorized the product on November 20, 2020. This is the first authorization for a treatment for COVID-19 under the Interim Order, a temporary mechanism used to expedite approval of drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 without compromising safety and efficacy. The authorization is based on promising data that showed that Bamlanivimab reduced COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression. Under this conditional authorization, Eli Lilly will continue to submit data to Health Canada related to the safety and effectiveness of the drug from ongoing clinical trials and on-market use.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada continues to pursue an aggressive strategy to ensure that Canadians have access to effective COVID-19 treatments. I am pleased to announce an important new agreement with Eli Lilly, and its Canadian partner AbCellera, which will help to save lives by providing Canadians with access to this leading antibody therapy for COVID-19.”

The Honourable Anita Anand
Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Canadians eagerly await news of new treatments and vaccines. To provide Canadians with faster access to COVID-19 drugs, like Eli Lilly’s new antibody treatment, Health Canada is expediting its reviews of COVID-19 drugs, while maintaining its standards for safety, efficacy and quality.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

“The Government of Canada is a proud partner of innovative Canadian companies like AbCellera. We will continue strengthening our biomanufacturing and research capacity to respond to COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of Canadians.”

The Honourable Navdeep Bains
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Quick facts

  • Public Services and Procurement Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada are working together to purchase and distribute COVID-19 treatments and related supplies domestically.

  • Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Health Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and has a rigorous scientific review system in place to review product submissions for evidence of safety, effectiveness and quality to benefit Canadians.

  • On May 3, 2020, the Government of Canada announced a contribution of $175.6 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund to AbCellera Biologics to support its antibody therapy discovery and the construction of an antibody production facility.

  • AbCellera has partnered with global biopharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to co-develop a treatment for COVID-19; the partnership combines AbCellera’s advanced antibody therapy discovery platform with Eli Lilly’s development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities.

Associated links

Contacts

Cecely Roy
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Anita Anand
343-549-7293
cecely.roy@canada.ca

Media Relations
Public Services and Procurement Canada
819-420-5501
media@pwgsc-tpsgc.gc.ca

Cole Davidson
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Health Canada
613-957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

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