EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has started a ‘rolling review’ of data on the antibodies bamlanivimab and etesevimab which are being developed by Eli Lilly to be used in combination for the treatment of COVID-19. The review will also look at bamlanivimab used alone.

The decision to start the rolling review is based on preliminary results from two studies, one looking at the ability of the medicines to treat COVID-19 when combined, the other one when bamlanivimab is used alone. However, EMA has not yet evaluated the full dataset and it is too early to draw any conclusions regarding the benefit-risk balance of the medicines.

EMA has started evaluating the first batch of data, which come from animal studies (non-clinical data).

EMA will evaluate all data on these medicines, including evidence from clinical trials as they become available. The rolling review will continue until enough evidence is available to support formal marketing authorisation applications.

EMA will assess the medicine’s compliance with the usual standards for effectiveness, safety and quality. While the overall review timeline cannot be forecast yet, the process should be quicker than a regular evaluation due to the time gained during the rolling review.

How are the medicines expected to work?

Bamlanivimab and etesevimab are two monoclonal antibodies with activity against COVID-19. A monoclonal antibody is a type of protein that has been designed to attach to a specific structure (called an antigen). Bamlanivimab and etesevimab have been designed to attach to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 at two different sites. When they attach to the spike protein, the virus cannot enter the body’s cells. Because the antibodies attach to different parts of the protein, using them in combination may have a greater effect than using either alone.

Posted on the EMA website on 11 March 2021