Trump is 1 of 10 people to get antibody drug outside of clinical trial

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President Donald Trump received an unapproved antibody cocktail as part of his coronavirus treatment, making him one of fewer than 10 people to get the drug outside of a clinical trial, Stat News reported.

The cocktail, developed by the biotechnology company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, contains two monoclonal antibodies — molecules that latch onto the virus and stop it from infecting cells, Live Science previously reported. The drug entered late-stage trials in July and is being tested both as a therapy for sick patients and as a preventative treatment for healthy people.

Outside these formal clinical trials, patients can access the antibody cocktail by applying for a "compassionate use program," Stat News reported. A doctor must apply on behalf of their patient, citing that the patient's condition could be life-threatening, and this application process can take a week or more to process. Hospital pharmacies do not keep the antibody cocktail on site, so following approval, the drug then takes one to two days to reach the patient.

That is, when that patient isn't the President of the United States. Trump gained access to the cocktail in record time.

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"If you think you have a patient that's going to need the antibody cocktail, by the time the process is complete, it's possible that you've missed your window," Dr. Josh Barocas, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center, told Stat News. "And that's likely why only 10 people have gotten it the way the president did," outside of a clinical trial. 

In addition to the experimental antibody treatment, Trump's medical care differs from that of an average person in a number of ways: He's had access to frequent diagnostic testing, can easily check into the hospital as a precautionary measure and check himself out into a fully-staffed medical wing in his own home. He has also received the antiviral remdesivir and steroid dexamethasone on top of the antibody drug.

You can read more about Trump’s medical treatment at Stat News.

Originally published on Live Science. 

Nicoletta Lanese
Channel Editor, Health

Nicoletta Lanese is the health channel editor at Live Science and was previously a news editor and staff writer at the site. She holds a graduate certificate in science communication from UC Santa Cruz and degrees in neuroscience and dance from the University of Florida. Her work has appeared in The Scientist, Science News, the Mercury News, Mongabay and Stanford Medicine Magazine, among other outlets. Based in NYC, she also remains heavily involved in dance and performs in local choreographers' work.