Eli Lilly CEO: Developing potential coronavirus treatment at 'lightning speed’

Eli Lilly co-developing antibody therapy with AbCellera

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Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks said the pharmaceutical industry is working at "lightning speed" to develop a coronavirus treatment, and that Lilly is doing its part by collaborating with biotechnology firm AbCellera to create an antibody therapy to treat COVID-19.

"Across the industry ... everybody is working around the clock, and I think at lightning speed and in ways we never have before," Ricks told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Friday.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
LLYELI LILLY & COMPANY145.65-1.79-1.21%

Ricks said the potential treatment would work by acquiring a blood sample from some of the early survivors of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and isolating antibodies, which is the way the body attacks viruses and infusing them into people who are sick.

“It’s an exciting approach and one of many approaches across the industry to help with this horrible situation,” he said.

Employees of Eli Lilly prepare to start drive-thru testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, to Indianapolis area healthcare workers at the company headquarters in Indianapolis, Monday, March 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Ricks said the hope is to begin clinical trials as early as this summer and if that goes well, production would be expanded to use the potential treatment to help people who are sick. If production is expanded enough, he added, it can be used prophylactically to help those who are at risk.

Ricks said the potential treatment has not yet been studied in humans but is hopeful it could be fast-tracked.

"Drug development usually takes about 15 years from idea to the market," he said. "Here, we're talking about something like six to nine months."

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