Regeneron Shares Gain After $450 Million Coronavirus Drug Contract With US Government

Regeneron, which is test two drugs for prevention and treatment of the novel coronavirus, wins a $450 million U.S. government contract under 'Operation Warp Speed'.
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Regeneron Pharmaceuticals  (REGN) - Get Report shares edged higher Tuesday after the drugmaker was awarded a $450 million contract from the U.S. government to produce its developing coronavirus treatment. 

Regeneron said the contract will assist with its plans to ramp-up production of the drug, known as REGN-COV2, if clinical trials are successful and the Food and Drug Administration grants Emergency Use Authorization or product approval. REGN-COV2, an antiviral cocktail, is involved in two different clinical trials for both the treatment and prevention of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.

One trial, run jointly with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would test the cocktail's ability to prevent infection in 2,000 people who have been exposed to the virus by close contact, such as by housemates. A separate trial is testing the antibody cocktail therapy as a treatment in 2,900 coronavirus patients who are in hospitals and ambulatory settings. 

"Regeneron's thirty years of investment in our innovative VelociSuite antibody discovery and development technologies and our large-scale manufacturing facilities, coupled with the expertise and passion of our people, has enabled us to move the REGN-COV2 program forward at remarkable speed," said CEO Leonard Schleifer. "We made the decision early on to begin large-scale manufacturing at our own risk in order to ensure that product would be available immediately if our clinical trials prove successful and an Emergency Use Authorization is granted."

"This manufacturing and supply agreement with BARDA and the Department of Defense could help REGN-COV2 reach many people quickly, hopefully helping to change the course of this deadly and still-raging pandemic," he added.

Regeneron shares were marked 0.3% higher in early trading Tuesday to  change hands at $629.52 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain past 70%.

Formed last month under the Department for Health and Human Services, a division of the U.S. government, Operation Warp Speed aims to deliver "300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021" while developing what it calls a "broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics."