Florida closes monoclonal antibody treatment sites after feds limit use

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday night that certain monoclonal antibody treatment brands no longer had emergency use authorization, Florida officials decided to close the sites where it was being administered to COVID-19 patients.

MIAMI – After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Monday night that certain monoclonal antibody treatment brands no longer had emergency use authorization, Florida officials decided to close the sites where it was being administered to COVID-19 patients.

The Florida Department of Health released a statement on Tuesday saying the state agency disagrees with the federal agency’s decision on the infusion treatments. Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, condemned the move.

“The federal government has failed to adequately provide the United States with adequate outpatient treatment options for COVID-19. Now, they are scrambling to cover up a failure to deliver on a promise to ‘shut down the virus,” Ladapo said.

The FDA made the determination after Regeneron and Eli Lilly announced the COVID-19 antibody drugs were less effective against the dominant omicron variant than during early in an infection of the delta variant.

Related story: Dade mayor condemns handling of antibody treatment cancelations

“There are several other therapies – Paxlovid, sotrovimab, Veklury (remdesivir), and molnupiravir – that are expected to work against the omicron variant, and that are authorized or approved to treat patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for progression to severe disease, including hospitalization or death,” Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research director, said in a statement on Monday.

According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, just this week the agency is providing Florida with 34,000 doses of treatments that do work against omicron.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. made the announcement about the "diminished" benefit late last year. (Regeneron)

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who promoted the drugs during news conferences, released a statement on Monday reporting that more than 2,000 Tuesday appointments had been canceled after the FDA’s decision.

“Biden has forced trained medical professionals to choose between treating their patients or breaking the law,” DeSantis said. “This indefensible edict takes treatment out of the hands of medical professionals and will cost some Americans their lives.”

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez referred to the FDA’s decision as a “royal decree” that “put individuals at risk.”

Related story: DeSantis demands more Regeneron for Florida, but antibody not effective against omicron, studies show

6 p.m. report

While Florida closes the sites that were distributing antibody drugs from Regeneron and Eli Lilly, the federal government was transitioning to promoting treatments that are more effective against omicron, authorities said.

About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.