Florida health officials face hurdles with limited supply of monoclonal antibody from government


The Florida Department of Health says the state continues to request supply of the monoclonal antibody, sotrovimab, from the federal government, though supply is limited.

The drug, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, is the only approved in the United States to treat people with coronavirus by intravenous after the Food and Drug Administration on Monday halted emergency authorization of those made by Regeneron and Eli Lilly because the agency said they are not effective against the Omicron variant. The FDA also this week began shipping two new drugs in pill form, Merck and Pfizer, to pharmacies with a doctor’s approval necessary.

«Sotrovimab continues to be controlled by the federal government, and the state continues to request supply,» said Weesam Khoury, a spokesperson for FDOH.

However, it has been a challenge obtaining the medication on a state level due to a shift to nationwide allocation.

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the...
Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Credit: NIAID-RML

«Prior to the monoclonal antibody ordering shift in September, monoclonal antibody treatments were ordered directly through wholesalers – minimizing a barricade between supply and demand,» said Khoury. «When the federal government shifted to nationwide allocations, the state was also tasked with ensuring allocations were distributed to providers and state sites.»


FDOH said the state quickly adapted, and developed an operational plan to distribute limited allocations to state sites and providers statewide, but the supply was not enough to keep up with the demand.

«During peak monoclonal usage in Florida, state sites alone used 35,000 doses per week,» Khoury said.

Health officials said being able to order the monoclonal antibodies directly will help to save lives and alleviate the strain on hospitals.

Hospital Hallway
Hospital Hallway

«If the state was able to directly order this from the manufacturer, there would be less barricades to receiving this lifesaving treatment and administering it,” said Khoury.

According to the latest U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data, between Jan. 24 and Jan. 30, Florida received 3,216 doses of sotrovimab from the federal government. California received the most doses at 6,678, followed by Texas with 4,032 doses, and New York with 2,376 doses.

«We encourage states and providers to continue offering effective treatments to Americans who get sick with COVID-19, and HHS remains committed to providing these to states at no cost,» Seth Schuster, regional communications director at the White House, said in a statement Monday.

Two sites administering the intravenous treatments are closed in Palm Beach County.

Last Tuesday, the state opened a treatment center at the West Boynton Beach Recreaiton Center. The state recently turned over a site at Westgate Park in unincorporated West Palm Beach to Miami-based CDR Maguire Inc.

The FDA shipped 21,080 doses of the Merck pill (Molnupiravir) and 5,240 of the AstraZeneca one (Paxlovid) as well as 4,680 injections of AstraZeneca (Evusheld).

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