Lubbock doctor continues COVID-19 antibody infusions with remaining state facility doses

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 9:46 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - When the State of Texas closed its COVID-19 monoclonal antibody infusion center at 50th Street & University Avenue in Lubbock, Dr. Houssam Al Kharrat made a phone call to his colleagues there with the question of what would become of the remaining medication. Now he’s in possession of the 415 doses in hopes of continuing to provide the treatment to those in need.

“We did do infusions here before,” Dr. Kharrat said of his West Texas Digestive Disease Center infusion center. “It was a different type of setting. We did improve our setting for the infusions and we were having really hard time getting access to medication. Since we have all our applications with the government in order, they did not have any problem transferring those medications to us so we can still provide a service here.”

The medication is bebtelovimab, which was granted emergency use authorization by the FDA in February, “for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients with a positive COVID-19 test, and who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and for whom alternative COVID-19 treatment options approved or authorized by the FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate.”

“For patients who are a high-risk patient, it can change people’s life,” Kharrat said. “It can prevent you from having hospital admission. It can prevent you from losing lives. It’s extremely important to keep those programs and those medications available to public. COVID is not gone. It’s under control, but it’s not gone.”

Kharrat told KCBD that because the government is not sponsoring the infusion program, the treatment will come at a cost for patients.

“We have to get insurance approved,” Kharrat said. “We did talk with the City and they are looking right now to see if a self-pay patient or unfunded patient, if they can help with their infusion. We’re going to have program for payment if they need it. So, we’re going to try our best not to turn anyone back for finances.”

Patients who seek the treatment must have a doctor’s referral and must make an appointment.

Click here for information about the West Texas Digestive Disease Center, 5115 80th Street.

The following is information from the Lubbock Public Health Department issued upon the closure of the state sponsored infusion center:

COVID-19 medications are available by prescription at many local pharmacies. If you have mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, and are at risk of severe complications from COIVD-19 disease, call your doctor or health clinic to see if antiviral medications are right for you. You must take oral COVID-19 medication within five days of your first COVID-19 symptoms. Not everyone will need or qualify for the medication. A thorough medical screening is needed prior to receiving a prescription.

Vaccinations are still the best defense against severe COVID-19 disease and complications. If you are at high risk for COVID-19, make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine. First doses and boosters are available for free at the Lubbock Public Health Department. Call 806-775-2933 to make an appointment.

For more information about antiviral medications call 1-800-232-0233.

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