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Florida to receive needed doses of monoclonal antibodies

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Gov. Ron DeSantis challenged the Biden Administration to loosen its control of COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment supplies through its allocation system to either increase the supply of the therapy distributed to Florida or allow the states to purchase the antibodies directly.

The federal government came through and a day after pressuring the administration to up the antibodies, a shipment of 30,000 more doses is being processed.

In September 2021, the Biden Administration took full control of the supply of monoclonals, then dramatically cut Florida’s supply. To help fill the gap caused by this cut in allocation, Florida worked with GlaxoSmithKline to bring thousands of doses of another monoclonal to Florida, but the Biden Administration took control of this treatment as well by not permitting the state to purchase monoclonals directly from distributors.

According to figures released by the Governor’s Office, Florida distributed approximately 30,000 doses of the therapy per week while the state was able to manage its own supply of the drugs.

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Last month, the Biden Administration announced that it would pause its distribution of Regeneron and Eli Lilly monoclonal antibody treatments to states through its allocation system on grounds that the treatments could be less effective against the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The administration reversed that decision after Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo requested in a letter that Biden allow “states and healthcare practitioners provide treatment options that best benefit the communities they serve.”

Despite that policy reversal, the Governor’s office said that Florida needs at least 30,000 more doses per week than it was receiving through the federal allocation system in order to expand capacity at existing monoclonal antibody treatment sites and to open new ones capable of treating 250-300 patients per day at each site.

According to DeSantis, Florida is financially and logistically able to distribute the treatments when they are available.

On Jan. 3, DeSantis remarked, “The state has more than $800 million available to quickly deploy monoclonal antibody treatments throughout the state,” he said, “and the only thing holding us back is the insufficient supply of treatment from the federal government.”

The following day, the state was notified by the federal government that a shipment of 30,000 more doses is in the planning stages.

Monoclonal antibody treatments can prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death in high-risk patients age 12 years and older. For high-risk patients who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, Regeneron can provide temporary immunity to decrease their odds of catching the infection by more than 80 percent.
Treatment is free and vaccination status does not matter.

To find locations to receive monoclonal antibody treatments around the entire state, visit floridahealthcovid19.gov, or call the Florida Department of Health Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Support Line at 850-344-9637.

In December, Evusheld, a COVID-19 monoclonal antibody preventative, came available for those who have cancer, have received organ transplants or who are otherwise moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Those eligible for the Evusheld monoclonal antibody therapy should contact their healthcare provider for more information. Locations that will administer this monoclonal antibody therapy can be found at www.FloridaHealthCOVID19.gov.

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