S Korean COVID-19 treatment ‘conditionally’ approved

SEOUL (XINHUA) – South Korea’s drug safety agency said yesterday it conditionally approved the country’s first homegrown COVID-19 treatment candidate, developed by local pharmaceutical giant Celltrion.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a statement it granted a marketing authorisation for Regkirona Inj 960mg (regdanvimab) on condition of submitting the results of a global phase-three clinical trial.

Celltrion made the application to the agency on December 29, 2020 and announced the results in January from a global phase-two clinical study.

Regkirona Inj is a recombinant neutralising antibody drug, produced by selecting a neutralising antibody gene in a COVID-19 convalescent patient’s blood and inserting the selected gene into a host cell that is cultured for the large-scale production of the antibody.

The treatment candidate can be administered to COVID-19 outpatients with mild symptoms at high risk, which refer to people aged over 60 years or with more than one underlying disease among cardiovascular risk, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic respiratory disease, as well as outpatients with moderate symptoms aged 18 or higher.

It can be administered by intravenous infusion that is directly injected into the vein for about 90 minutes. The drug safety agency said Regkirona Inj was the first approved COVID-19 treatment as a domestically developed drug and the third regulatory-verified COVID-19 antibody treatment in the world.

It added that the use of the drug along with other vaccines can help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

People ride bicycles at a park in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: AP