GSK Omicron-fighting drug cleared by UK regulators

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General view outside GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) headquarters in Brentford, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 4, 2020. REUTERS/Matthew Childs
So far the UK government has ordered 100,000 doses of the drug from GSK. Photo: REUTERS/Matthew Childs

A drug developed by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKlein (GSK.L) has been authorised by UK regulators in a move that could prove key in the treatment of the Omicron variant. 

The makers say Xevudy (sotrovimab) works against the recently discovered mutation of COVID-19 and was found to cut hospital admission and death by 79%.

The drug is a monoclonal antibody and was cleared for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 

GSK said it “retains activity against key mutations of the new Omicron Sars-CoV-2 variant”.

This runs in contrast to early tests of Regeneron’s antibody treatment Ronapreve, which found the mutations in Omicron may hold the drug back.

GSK’s chief scientific officer Hal Barron, said the company was working to expand access to the treatment worldwide.

So far the UK government has ordered 100,000 doses of the drug. 

The development comes shortly after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) narrowly backed a pill to treat COVID made by drugs company Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.

“This is yet another therapeutic that has been shown to be effective at protecting those most vulnerable to Covid-19, and signals another significant step forward in our fight against this devastating disease, said Dr June Raine, MHRA CEO. 

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The development will be a welcome one for governments and markets, as volatility set in again over the last weeks following the detection of Omicron. 

GSK stock jumped in pre-market trade in New York. 

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