The Florida Surgeon General has accused the Biden administration of “actively preventing” the distribution of COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapies, causing an “immediate and life-threatening lack of treatment options.”
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Tuesday, Dr. Joseph Ladapo argued that HHS had reduced the number of antibodies allocated to Sunshine State earlier in the year “without prior notice.”
“The sudden suspension of multiple monoclonal antibody therapy treatments from distribution to Florida removes a healthcare provider’s ability to determine the best treatment options for their patients in that state,” he wrote. “This short-sightedness is particularly evident given that the federal government effectively banned states from buying these monoclonal antibodies and serving their populations directly.”
According to Ladapo, the reduction came into effect after Governor Ron DeSantis ordered an increase in monoclonal antibody treatments to combat the Delta variant in August. By mid-September, treatment had been administered to nearly 100,000 people before Washington announced what the state’s Surgeon General called a “dramatic reduction in the number of monoclonal antibodies to be allocated” to Florida.
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Last week, HHS paused the distribution of antibody treatments made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, saying they would hardly be as effective against the Omicron variant, which is thought to be responsible for the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. It later revised the order on Wednesday, saying the break would only apply to states or territories in regions where Omicron accounted for at least 80 percent of COVID-19 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that Omicron accounts for 59 percent of all COVID cases in the United States. However, this estimate rises to 78 percent in an HHS-defined region that includes Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
Another monoclonal antibody, GlaxoSmithKlines Sotrovimab, appears to be more effective against Omicron and continues to be distributed by the federal government. But according to Ladapo, no one has been allocated from the federal government to Florida, forcing the DeSantis administration to purchase a supply on its own.
“[L]The allocation of this life-saving treatment by the federal government continues to cause yet another immediate and life-threatening lack of treatment options… as the Omicron variant spreads across the state, ”Ladapo said in the letter.
“[T]the federal agencies under your control should not restrict our state’s access to available treatments for COVID-19, “he added before claiming,” The federal government is actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments in the United States. “
At the end of his letter, Ladapo pointed out comments made by President Biden to the National Governors Association on Monday, declaring that there is “no federal solution” to the coronavirus crisis.
“Therefore, as chief physician, I respectfully request that you allow states and physicians in the health care sector to offer treatment options that best benefit the communities they serve,” he concluded.