Wednesday 5 January 2022

DeSantis calls for states to be allowed to buy monoclonal antibody treatments

 Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called on the federal government to allow states to purchase monoclonal antibody treatments on Monday as his state and the country are slammed with COVID-19 cases.

The governor said during a press conference in Fort Lauderdale that the state is waiting to obtain enough doses to open five to 10 more monoclonal antibody treatment sites. But with the federal government in "control" of the supply, that plan is "all contingent on the federal government sending the doses we need," he said.

Under the federal government's "exclusive arrangement," DeSantis said he does not think Florida is able to purchase its own monoclonal antibodies, although the state has set aside money in case the option becomes available.  

"We're past the point now where we're able to get it directly from any of these companies," DeSantis said. "The federal government has cornered the entire market."

"We do not believe that the federal government should be holding back any more medications," he added. "We have to offer this particularly for our elderly population."

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) paused the distribution of some monoclonal antibody treatments, including from Regeneron, in recent weeks after preliminary data showed a reduced effectiveness against the omicron variant. 

But the governor said HHS "decided to reverse course," and the state expects to receive between 30,000 and 40,000 additional antibody doses. 

While DeSantis said officials believe cases are "overwhelmingly" attributable to the omicron variant in the state, especially in South Florida, he noted that "delta is still there."

"It may not be as good as it was against delta, but we obviously want to have that here for patients to be able to do it," he said.

Florida has seen its COVID-19 cases climb more than eight times higher in two weeks, according to data from The New York Times. The state's hospitalizations have tripled in that time, but deaths are still declining. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) also requested federal assistance, including for more monoclonal antibody treatments, last week as the state faces climbing case counts.

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