COVID-19: New Zealand evaluating antibody cocktail Ronapreve for treatment

New Zealand's medicine regulator is evaluating the use of antibody cocktail Ronapreve to prevent and treat COVID-19, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said on Wednesday. 

Ronapreve has shown promise in clinical trials in treating COVID-19 and was approved by UK regulators last month. It's received emergency approval to treat COVID-19 in more than 20 countries. 

A large trial showed Ronapreve cut the risk of catching COVID-19 from infected household contacts while also lessening the length of time they had high viral loads and how long they had symptoms for. 

Medicine regulator Medsafe has recently received an application for the drug and will evaluate its evidence, Dr Bloomfield told reporters. If Medsafe approved the medicine, Government drug buying agency Pharmac would move on whether to fund it, he said.

The Ministry of Health is also exploring supply options for antibody treatment Sotrovimab, Dr Bloomfield said, which has had the backing of the EU since May. 

"It is another one that is similar to Ronapreve and it complements rather than replaces vaccination," Dr Bloomfield said. "[There's] some good data coming through from evidence in trials and Medsafe has not yet received an application. However, the ministry is engaging with Pharmac to already explore potential supply options and encourage an application for approval through to Medsafe. "

"We have a technical advisory group of clinicians who've met weekly since late August and is providing updated advice to us all the time on emerging treatments."

Other COVID-19 treatments being used in New Zealand include antiviral Remdesivir, steroid Dexamethasone and arthritis drug Tocilizumab, Dr Bloomfield said.