Florida Shuts Down All Sites For Monoclonal Antibody Treatments

(FiveNation.com)- Florida has closed all of its treatment sites that were administering monoclonal antibodies after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced recently it was rescinding the emergency use authorizations it previously gave for two treatments for COVID-19.

On Monday, the FDA said it wouldn’t permit using etesevimab and bamlanivimbab, nor the combination of Regeneron. In response, the Florida Department of Health said it would close all these treatment sites immediately.

In a statement, the department said:

“Unfortunately, as a result of this abrupt decision made by the federal government, all monoclonal antibody state sites will be closed until further notice.”

The reasoning that the FDA gave for its quick decision was that data has shown that the treatments don’t work well against the Omicron variant. Since the variant is responsible for more than 99% of all COVID-19 cases in the country, the agency rescinded approval for the treatments as a way to prevent potential side effects.

In announcing the decision, the FDA said:

“In the future, if patients in certain geographic regions are likely to be infected or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments, then use of these treatments may be authorized in these regions.”

Not surprisingly, the state of Florida disagreed with the decision made by the FDA. Kenneth Scheppke, the deputy secretary of health for Florida, particularly disagreed with the decision about Regeneron. He said there has been no clinical evidence that the FDA has provided to show it doesn’t work.

As a result, Scheppke sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In that letter, he wrote that the state already ordered 30,000 doses of the treatment, but the agency never responded to requests Florida made for updates on that order.

He wrote:

While we were hopeful to immediately connect on this timely and important issue, unfortunately, you were no longer able to accommodate our request for a call today and canceled. We believe the decision to delay our meeting was made with the awareness that this would be announced.

“Rather than transparent communication from the federal government to states, decisions continue to be made through news cycles, and this actively prevents states from making operational decisions that actively save lives.”

Further, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis blasted the Biden administration’s decision. In a statement, he said:

“Without a shred of clinical data to support this action, Biden has forced trained medical professionals to choose between treating their patients or breaking the law. This indefensible edict takes treatment out of the hands of medical professionals and will cost some Americans their lives. There are real-world implications to Biden’s medical authoritarianism — Americans’ access to treatments is now subject to the whims of a failing president.”

The HHS immediately pushed back on Twitter, saying the outspoken governor was more interested in pushing medicines that have proven not to work rather than vaccines that are supported by clinical data.