GlobalData on Monday said that Japan’s decision to limit AstraZeneca’s Evusheld supply to only COVID-19 prevention will still likely encourage its uptake. Recently, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) approved AstraZeneca’s long-acting antibody combination Evusheld for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
According to GlobalData’s ‘Pharmaceutical Intelligence Center’, 82.4 percent of Japan’s population is fully vaccinated. However, the country reported the highest number of new infections globally from 26 July 2022 to 29 August 2022.
“Despite Japan’s high vaccination rates and stringent safety precautions, COVID-19 still had a significant impact on older adults, patients with comorbid conditions, and immunocompromised patients, who are at risk for poor outcomes from severe infection. Evusheld is now the only long-acting antibody combination authorized for both COVID-19 prevention and treatment. It is expected to help protect vulnerable patient groups in Japan from this devastating disease,” Neha Myneni, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData said in a statement.
To date, COVID-19 antibody therapeutics have been used as treatment to fill the gap until the antivirals are available, the data analytics company claimed. However, antibody therapeutics reportedly become ineffective over time as viruses continuously evolve. Evusheld, in contrast, remains effective against the current circulating variants, including the Omicron subvariants, GlobalData stated on Monday.
According to the data analytics company, the high cost of antibody therapeutics, compared to antiviral drugs, impacts the uptake of the former. In the case of Evusheld, the Japanese government has agreed to provide the drug-free of cost to select medical institutions with patients only bearing technical costs, priced at JPY3,100 ($21.60). In comparison, the cost of antiviral is much higher in Japan. For instance, MSD’s Lagevrio costs $750, and Pfizer’s Paxlovid costs $530, it stated.
“Now that Japan has decided to limit the use of Evusheld to just PrEP for COVID-19, AstraZeneca may promote the therapy among the patients and HCPs to improve its uptake. This can be achieved by promoting the lifesaving benefits of the drug, including its efficacy, to provide lasting protection against COVID-19 that can continue for a minimum of six months. Further information on the cost-benefit offered by the government for the eligible population can also help increase the brand uptake,” Myneni stated.
Last month, AstraZeneca’s Evusheld recieved approval in Japan for both prevention (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and treatment of COVID-19 infection. According to the vaccine maker, the Japanese government had agreed to purchase 300,000 units of Evusheld.