President Trump said he “felt good immediately” after receiving an experimental antibody treatment for coronavirus from biotech Regeneron. Now, he wants regulators to approve emergency use of Regeneron’s drug and a similar one from Eli Lilly – and both stocks jumped on the news.
Trump made the comments in a taped video from the White House published to his Twitter feed Wednesday. He added that he wants patients in the hospital for Covid-19 to get the Regeneron or Eli Lilly treatments for free, “especially if you’re a senior.”
Shares of Regeneron (REGN) – which have soared since Trump first received a high dose of its experimental cocktail REGN-COV2 last week following his coronavirus diagnosis – were up another 3% in early trading Thursday. Big Pharma company Eli Lilly (LLY)’s stock was up about 1.5%.
Trump’s praise for Regeneron has raised some ethical concerns. He has ties to the company: The president once owned the stock, though his most recent disclosure forms for his investments do not show Regeneron as a holding. Trump is also an acquaintance of the biotech’s CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer, who has been a member at the president’s golf club in Westchester, New York.
Although Regeneron’s drug might help to alleviate some of the symptoms of coronavirus, it is not a Covid-19 cure. Trump made that misleading claim in his video.
“They gave me Regeneron, and it was like, unbelievable,” he said. “I know they call them therapeutic, but to me it wasn’t therapeutic, it just made me better. I call that a cure.”
Regeneron is also the name of the company, not the drug that Trump took. REGN-COV2 is the codename for the antibody cocktail the president received.
But several other biotechs and Big Pharma companies, such as Pfize (PFE)r, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Moderna (MRNA) and Novavax (NVAX), are working on actual vaccines. All of them have received government funding as part of the Operation Warp Speed program.
Separately, Eli Lilly also said Wednesday that it is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charitable arm of the Microsof (MSFT)t co-founder and his wife, to produce more of its antibody treatments for poorer nations.
“It is vital that people, no matter where they live or their ability to pay, can access effective therapeutics,” said Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in a statement.
“It is encouraging to see Lilly stepping up and committing to making products more affordable and accessible to everyone who needs them. Until every country can effectively tackle Covid-19, no country will be safe,” Suzman added.