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UPDATE 3-Regeneron expects new data on COVID-19 therapy over next few months

(Recasts lede, adds company comments, updates shares)

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc on Friday beat quarterly profit estimates and said it expects to report new trial data in a few months on a lower dose of its COVID-19 antibody therapy that will be easier to administer.

COVID-19 antibody therapies, by Regeneron and rival Eli Lilly’s, are given through one-time intravenous infusion and require patients to be isolated. This additional complexity in their administration has led to lackluster demand for the drugs, approved for non-hospitalized patients.

To address the logistical challenges, Regeneron has been working on a lower dose of its antibody therapy, REGEN-COV, which is to be given subcutaneously, i.e. by injecting under the skin, increasing patient convenience.

The drugmaker is also testing the therapy for COVID-19 prevention and for use in hospitalized patients.

“We expect important additional readouts over the next few months, in terms of confirmatory Phase III results in the prevention setting, in the outpatient setting, which includes an evaluation of our lower dose and in the hospitalized setting,” Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoulos said.

Regeneron, which won U.S. emergency use authorization for REGEN-COV in November, reported tepid sales of $145.5 million from the drug in the fourth quarter, below Wall Street estimate of $173 million.

Last month, the company blamed the underwhelming sales on timing, as it will be delivering additional doses of the therapy to the United States in the first quarter.

The U.S. government last month said it will buy 1.25 million additional doses of the antibody cocktail for about $2.63 billion.

Regeneron said it expects to deliver 750,000 doses of the therapy by June-end at $2,100 per dose, with a majority of these deliveries occurring in the second quarter.

Excluding items, Regeneron earned $9.53 per share in the fourth quarter, beating estimates of $8.39 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data. (Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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