Samsung Biologics to manufacture AstraZeneca’s Covid antibody therapy

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British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca on Tuesday said that Samsung Biologics, the biotech arm of Samsung Group, will manufacture its antibody combination against Covid-19.

Under an agreement valued at approximately $380 million, Samsung Biologics will manufacture Evusheld — AstraZeneca’s combination of two long-acting antibodies in development for the potential treatment of Covid-19 — at its plant in Songdo, Incheon, 40 km west of Seoul, Yonhap news agency reported.

The deal represents a hike from a long-term supply agreement valued at $331 million signed between the two firms in September.

Evusheld is an injectable monoclonal antibody cocktail and has been approved for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, against Covid-19 among individuals aged 12 and older and who are not currently infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and who have not recently been exposed to an individual infected with SARS-CoV-2.

It is the first antibody treatment against Covid-19 that has won an Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has also won approval from drug authorities in other countries, including France and Italy.

The cocktail is made up of Tixagevimab and cilgavimab — long-acting monoclonal antibodies that are specifically directed against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. It is designed to block the virus’ attachment and entry into human cells. Tixagevimab and cilgavimab bind to different, non-overlapping sites on the spike protein of the virus, the FDA said.

AstraZeneca has also said it is testing Evusheld against the new Omicron variant, that has so far spread to more than 60 countries.

The deal also includes Samsung Bioglogics manufacturing AstraZeneca’s oncology drug Imfinzi at its plant starting next year, the report said.

Imfinzi has won approval in many countries, including South Korea, for the treatment of lung cancer. The drug is currently under study for the treatment of other cancers.

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