Doctors express concern over limiting Alabama’s access to antibody treatment

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:38 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WAFF) - Doctors with the Medical Association of the State of Alabama are voicing some big concerns that the federal government is taking steps to limit access to monoclonal antibody treatment.

“Alabama’s hospitals are full and under tremendous stress.  That’s why physicians are very concerned about federal efforts that will end up limiting our supply and access to this effective treatment,” said Dr. Aruna Arora, President of the Medical Association. “We’re calling on the federal government to help us provide more of this treatment – not less – so we can save lives and keep COVID patients out of the hospital.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified state health agencies last week that efforts to expand the monoclonal antibody therapy locations have been put on hold. The HHS also stated that it is temporarily reducing the quantity of the treatment that health care providers can order. Officials estimate that only 70% of orders will be approved.

There are currently 228 locations in the state that provide the treatment, 142 of those are non-hospital locations such as physician officers and urgent care centers.

The treatment has been shown to help reduce the need for hospitalization in COVID-19 patients. In addition to reducing hospitalizations, the treatment has worked to reduce viral loads and lessen symptom severity.

“Many patients who receive monoclonal antibody treatment report feeling better within 24 to 48 hours,” said Dr. Arora.  “The best way people can avoid COVID-19 and hospitalization is to get vaccinated.  Monoclonal antibody treatment is not a substitute for COVID vaccinations.  However, if someone does test positive for COVID-19, they should immediately talk to a physician and see if they qualify for monoclonal antibody treatment.  It can be a life-saver if given in the first 10 days of symptoms.”

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