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High demand for authorized antibody therapeutic limits South Plains supply

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 5:42 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Only two providers of monoclonal antibody therapeutics remain on the South Plains, according to Texas Department of Emergency Management and the Department of State Health Services, after the revision to FDA emergency use authorization for ineffective products against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

“Sotrovimab is the only monoclonal antibody therapeutic that has shown to be effective against the dominant Omicron variant,” Lara Anton, a spokesperson for DSHS, told KCBD. “It is in high demand across the country.”

The DSHS sent a letter to providers notifying them of the FDA’s revision to the EUA for bamlanivimab plus etesevimab (BAM/ETE) and casirivimab plus imdevimab (REGEN-COV). Those specific treatments for preventing severe infection or hospitalization are no longer authorized to be used.

“Yesterday’s announcement by the FDA should not have a major impact on the operations at infusion centers in Texas,” Anton said. “For the past several weeks, DSHS had been advising infusion providers to only administer those two products to patients with lab evidence that they did not have the Omicron variant. Very small amounts of those products had been allocated to providers since Omicron became the dominant variant in Texas.”

The federal government controls the allocations of the remaining Sotrovimab, which the DSHS expects to receive 4,032 courses of this week for the entire state.

“The issue right now is supply and demand,” Lubbock’s Director of Public Health Katherine Wells said. “There are so many cases of Omicron and there is a limited number of this Sotrovimab. There are only so many doses available in our community.”

According to the TDEM and DSHS Texas COVID-19 Therapeutics Availability map, the regional TDEM Infusion Center at Grace Medical Center and the West Texas Digestive Disease Center are the providers with courses with Sotrovimab.

“Now it’s all the sudden you have cut your supply by two thirds and you have a third left,” Dr. Houssam Al Kharrat at WTDDC said. “That’s created a major shortage in monoclonal for patients.”

Kharrat told KCBD the ability to obtain the therapeutics has become more challenging as the government has retained control of allocations. He said as a provider they will follow the guidelines and research but he hopes to soon obtain more courses.

“I’ve seen how good those medications work,” Kharrat said. “It does not take weeks, a month to see the effect. Usually 24-48 hours a patient can turn around, no matter what symptoms they have.”

He also points out there are new oral antiviral medications, such as Molnupiravir or Paxlovid. However, those are in short supply as well. They also require a doctor’s order and early detection of COVID-19 infection.

“If you’re at a high risk to develop complications from COVID and you have symptoms of COVID, get tested early and seek medical advice early,” Kharrat said.

Wells said the monoclonal antibodies are similar to the vaccine in prompting the immune system to develop its own immunity. She said the community has plenty of vaccine available.

“We can’t guarantee you access to either the antiviral medications right now or the antibody infusion,” Wells said. “The step you can do to prevent that severe disease is going to be getting those vaccines or if you’ve already been vaccinated to get that booster.”

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