Hospitals struggle to monoclonal antibody drugs
DECATUR, Ala. (WAFF) - Officials at Decatur-Morgan Hospital say hospital staff is struggling to treat all of its COVID patients. This is due to the inadequate supply of a drug that’s effective at keeping infected people out of the hospital, according to officials our news partners at the Decatur Daily spoke to.
Hospital CEO Kelli Powers said she gets daily emails on how many doses of sotrovimab, a drug used in monoclonal antibody treatments, the hospital will receive. Since the beginning of this year, only received 36 doses, a small fraction of what has been requested. Powers said at one point last week, the hospital only received six doses.
“We had six doses and over 50 people really needing it,” she told the Decatur Daily. “Over 50 that were Priority 1, meaning they needed to get it that day, and we only had six doses.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health allocates the limited supply it receives to hospitals in the state. ADPH spokesperson Arrol Sheehan said the drug is “in extremely short supply. ADPH makes every effort to ensure these medications are equitably and fairly distributed throughout the state.”
“I don’t know what that means,” Powers said. “It’s a shame. Why can’t they make more?”
Earlier in the pandemic, there were three different drugs that were effective against previous variants of the coronavirus. However, now, sotrovimab has been found to be the only one effective against the omicron variant. Unfortunately, the drug company has not been able to meet the demand and two antiviral pills that are effective against severe COVID-19 illness are also in short supply.
Due to this short supply, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is purchasing the drug and allocating it to states based primarily on their COVID -19 case burdens, according to the HHS website. Last month, HHS allocated 2,868 doses of sotrovimab to Alabama, about 1.3% of the 204,950 doses allocated nationwide. Alabama’s population is about 1.5% of the U.S. population.
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