Feds Suddenly Ration Monoclonal Antibody Treatment
Medical providers in Alabama who administer monoclonal antibody treatments are adapting to recent changes brought on by the US Department of Health and Human Services on how the products are distributed.
According to State Health Officer Scott Harris, monoclonal antibody treatments have proven to keep Alabamians from getting seriously ill with COVID-19. Recently, almost 3/4 of the monoclonal products in the country have been going to 6 or 7 states in the Southeast.
“A lot of that has to do with the fact that we have really high case numbers, but we have been encouraging people to use these more often,” Harris said.
Now, the HHS is completely changing how the product is distributed, no longer allowing providers to order it directly but instead putting state health departments in charge of the process.
“There’s no question by just changing everything like this in the middle of the stream that there is going to be a learning curve,” Harris said.
Harris said the federal government wants to know exactly how many of these products are being used to ensure they are not just sitting on a shelf. The amount a state is given each week is based on the case numbers from the previous week.
Harris said Regional Medical Center in Anniston ran out of monoclonals this week due to this sudden change, and that they aren’t the only ones feeling the impacts. He believes the next week or so will tell exactly what kind of effect this will have on our state.
“I mean I’m hopeful it doesn’t mean a cut for us but really at this point, I’m just not sure. We just haven’t seen their formula exactly and don’t know how its going to play out.”
Over 250 providers in Alabama now administer monoclonals. Starting Monday, the product will need to be requested through an online portal.
This does not change the criteria for being eligible for the antibodies, which is anyone who is at high-risk for developing severe COVID-19 and over the age of 12. However, Harris said getting the vaccine is still the best way to prevent serious illness from COVID-19.