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Coronavirus

Japan to Purchase Antibody Cocktail for COVID-19

TOKYO — Japan’s government said Monday that it has agreed to purchase an antibody cocktail to be produced and marketed for COVID-19 treatment by a Japanese drug maker Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. which has a licensing deal with Roche.

Chugai Pharmaceutical concluded the agreement with Roche in December for the production and marketing in Japan of the antibody cocktail for the virus treatment.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters Monday that the government concluded the agreement with Chugai over the purchase of enough doses through March 2022 once the drug, now at final stages of clinical testing in Japan, is approved by the health ministry.

The antibody cocktail developed by Roche and a U.S. drug maker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. was approved for emergency use in the United States for the treatment of high-risk, non-hospitalized patients with mild cases. Clinical testing started in Japan in March and if approved, it will be a new effective addition to Japan’s COVID-19 treatment, Kato said.

A cocktail of two virus neutralizing antibodies casirivimab and imdevimab are synthetically manufactured copies of antibodies that the body produces after an infection. It was given to U.S. President Donald Trump when he contracted the disease in October.

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