HHS to pay for 60K doses of Eli Lilly's COVID-19 drug following its commercialization

The federal government said Sept. 23 that it will cover the cost for 60,000 doses of bebtelovimab, Eli Lilly's COVID-19 antibody drug. The news comes about a month after the drugmaker started selling the treatment commercially for $2,000 per dose.

The initiative is intended to help uninsured and underinsured patients, as health systems and hospitals that bought bebtelovimab can now have HHS replace the dose for free for eligible patients, according to the department. 

HHS' latest order is nearly two-thirds smaller than its previous order from Eli Lilly in June, which totaled $275 million for 150,000 bebtelovimab doses. When shifting its product to the commercial market in mid-August, the pharmaceutical company attributed the decision to dwindling COVID-19 federal funds. 

"I don't anticipate that this will in any way stimulate usage of the product," Daniel Skovronsky, MD, PhD, Eli Lilly's chief scientific and medical officer, told The Wall Street Journal in August. "It's more just about, how do we keep it available despite the U.S. government not being able to purchase it anymore. That's why we’re switching to a different model here."

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