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With a growing demand and a government take-over, where are the monoclonal antibody treatments going?

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 1:12 PM MDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Health experts say monoclonal antibody therapy treatment for COIVD-19 continues to grow in popularity for those fighting the virus.

But, a few weeks after the federal government took over the distribution of the drug, some still fear there won’t be enough to go around.

According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration, monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful antigens such as viruses. The therapy is typically performed as an infusion.

Dr. Ryan Bariola with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says monoclonal antibody therapy is a proven, effective COVID-19 treatment if taken within 10 days of infection.

“It’s shown to be very effective in reducing hospitalizations and mortality in certain high-risk patients,” said Bariola.

Citing an increased demand brought on by the Delta variant, the Department of Health and Human Services disrupted the supply chain, by announcing last month they’d be gatekeeping the drugs. A spokesperson said they are allocating treatment to the states, instead of allowing hospitals to buy directly from distributors.

A representative from Regeneron, one of the drug manufacturers, confirms they’ve sold their supply to the federal government.

Dr. Bariola said he is keeping an eye on his hospital’s stockpile, adding that the supply is more limited than it has been in the past.

The move continues to be criticized by many southern Republican lawmakers who are calling the new process federal overreach. Florida Sen. Rick Scott introduced legislation recently aiming to reverse the HHS decision.

“My whole goal with the bill I put up, was to make sure that the federal government doesn’t hold back any potential treatment to somebody who might have COVID,” said Sen. Scott (R-Fla.)

A spokesperson with HHS said the agency is using a weighted average of hospitalizations and confirmed infections to determine how they distribute the treatments. A weekly breakdown of the distributions can be found here.

The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement they will re-evaluate the allocation numbers on a weekly basis. State calculated amounts may be reduced if a state’s projected utilization is less than their calculated amount. Utilization of the drug is reported each week to HHS by administration sites, health departments, or other entities.

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