FederalStatewide NewsTexas Running Low on Monoclonal Antibody Therapy After Federal Government Halted Distribution

Monoclonal antibody treatment has been increasingly hard to come by after the federal government halted its distribution a few months ago.
January 3, 2022
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The Texas Department of Health and Human Services (DSHS) announced last week that multiple infusion centers ran out of monoclonal antibody treatment.

“The federal government controls the distribution of monoclonal antibodies, and the regional infusion centers in Austin, El Paso, Fort Worth, San Antonio and The Woodlands have exhausted their supply of sotrovimab, the monoclonal antibody effective against the COVID-19 Omicron variant, due to the national shortage from the federal government,” the DSHS said in a statement.

Monoclonal antibody treatment is used to “restore, enhance, or mimic” the immune system’s response to viruses.

Asked last week about a response to the coronavirus’ Omicron variant that is leading to an uptick in cases, Biden said “There is no federal solution. This gets solved at a state level.”

He added, “My message to the governors is simple: if you need something, say something. We’re going to have your back any way we can.”

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This message from the White House seemed contradictory to some in Texas.

“Biden vows full federal support to help states combat COVID. But he’s not,” Governor Greg Abbott said. “Biden is hoarding the anti-body therapeutic drugs [and] denying states independent access to that medical treatment. Now, he has stopped providing any of that medicine to Texas.”

The federal government halted shipments of three antibody treatments, including this brand, in November, but resumed sotrovimab shipments earlier this month.

Two of the three treatments, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, are estimated to lack effect against the Omicron variant — which appears to be more contagious and less severe than previous variants. The pair were useful, according to the HHS, against previous variants.

Sotrovimab, the department estimates, does work against the newest variant.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) penned a letter to Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), criticizing the federal government’s actions.

“The decisions your department made surrounding [monoclonal antibody] treatment supply chain changes caused immediate disruptions to [that] treatment access, and disruptions have only gotten worse as COVID-19 has continued to circulate through our communities,” he said.

“It is essential your department releases restrictions to purchasing [monoclonal antibody] treatments for all variants.”

Before Christmas, HHS said 55,000 doses of sotrovimab were distributed that week and another 300,000 are slated for distribution this month.

Under Food and Drug Administration guidelines, the treatment is not available for those hospitalized due to COVID-19 or who require oxygen therapy.

Becerra and the HHS have been light on details surrounding the distribution of sotrovimab and are receiving ample pushback from not only Texas, but other states like Florida, as well.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.