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Shortage: Federal gov’t limits states supply of monoclonal antibody treatments

Regeneron's monoclonal antibodies are being used at the center to treat outpatient cases of...
Regeneron's monoclonal antibodies are being used at the center to treat outpatient cases of COVID-19, who have a referral from a doctor.(Blake Holland/KLTV)
Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Due to increases in demand for monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19, the federal government announced changes for how treatments are supplied among states.

Governor Beshear confirmed in a release Tuesday that health care providers within the commonwealth with no longer be able to order treatments directly.

State governments will now supervise distribution of a capped number of treatments given to each state from week to week.

The governor said with lower supplies of monoclonal antibody treatments available, some patients suffering from COVID may not have access to them.

“I have a concern that some Kentuckians who are hesitant about the vaccine are placing faith in monoclonal antibodies,” Beshear said in a release. “What this shortage ought to tell you is that if you’re unvaccinated and you get really sick, not only might there not be a bed in the hospital for you because they are so full, but that monoclonal antibody treatment might not be there for you either. That thing you’re counting on might not be available. What is available, and there are no supply issues at all, are these safe and effective vaccines.”

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Hospital Association released the following statement:

“The increased incidence of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 caused a substantial surge in the ordering and utilization of monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs for the outpatient treatment of COVID-19, particularly in areas of the country with low vaccination rates. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to helping ensure availability of these critical drugs for current and future patients. As such, the distribution process for mAbs has changed.

On Monday, September 13, HHS transitioned from the process in which administration sites could directly order product from the distributor to a state/territory-coordinated distribution system. State and territorial health departments know best where product is needed in their areas. Transitioning to this system gives health departments maximum flexibility to get mAbs where they are needed most.

Under the State/Territory-Coordinated Distribution System:

  • HHS determines the weekly distribution amount for states and territories based on case burden (cases and hospitalizations) and utilization.
  • State and territorial health departments identify which mAb administration sites in their jurisdictions receive product and how much product they receive.

For the distribution week of September 13, Kentucky was allocated 500 unites of BAM/ETE and 4,460 units of REGN-COV.

As soon as distribution is available from the Kentucky Department for Public Health, KHA will relay that information to hospitals.”

“We were told yesterday that we should expect less availability of the monoclonal antibody treatments, we have been able to order directly from the distributors to get the product in the federal government yesterday took over control of that ordering,” said Patrick Maloney, the Director of Perioperative Services at the Medical Center at Bowling Green.

At this time, monoclonal antibody treatments may be reserved for those who are severely ill.

Maloney says the best way to prevent hospitalization is to get vaccinated.

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