NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - During a visit to a South Florida COVID-19 site, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to push back on new federal pandemic guidelines that put a pause on certain monoclonal antibody treatments.
The governor on Wednesday held a news conference and roundtable discussion at Miami Dade College’s North Campus, where appointments to receive the treatments were canceled and the site shut down.
“Our view in Florida is, we want doctors to have the ability to administer this. We want patients to have the ability to access it, and then they can make the decision, what’s best for them,” he said.
DeSantis expressed his disapproval of the Food and Drug Administration’s decision, announced earlier this week, to revoke authorization of monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly.
“To leave people hanging the way they have is really, really problematic,” he said.
Among those who learned they would no longer receive the monoclonal antibody treatment they had been scheduled for were Nancy and Frank Schlotter from New Port Richey.
“We were really disappointed when it was a short-notice cancellation of the treatment,” said Frank.
DeSantis brought with him Kenneth Scheppke, deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health, as well as other doctors who support continuing to have access to the Regeneron and Eli Lilly treatments.
“The value of monoclonals cannot be understated,” said Scheppke.
“I was very disheartened having to tell 18 patients that next day, that were on schedule, that we could not give them my typical medication, which is REGEN-COV,” said Dwight Reynolds, medical director and owner of Centers for Health Promotion, Inc.
The FDA stated that the treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly were not effective against omicron, which experts say is the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the U.S.
“The monoclonal antibodies that were being used didn’t work for omicron. They worked great for delta,” said Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University. “There’s no doubt of that anymore.”
Officials from Regeneron and Eli Lilly released statements agreeing with the FDA’s decision.
“Let me put it another way: I’m not going to give you antibiotics if what you have is high blood pressure,” said Marty.
But DeSantis said the FDA moved too quickly.
“This was a rash decision. This was not something that we got any real advance notice for,” he said, “and it’s a decision that I think is bad for patients. It’s not keeping with the way you do clinical data.”
On Tuesday, sites that provided those treatments were forced to close down immediately.
“The federal government has had six, seven, eight months to stockpile this sotrovimab, and they didn’t do it, so they’re kicking out the competitors from the market. They’re not allowing them to be offered,” said DeSantis, “and so, you have sotrovimab, and we’re happy to offer that, but there’s not nearly enough of it.”
But health experts insist you have to administer the right drug for the right disease.
“We have to set up the sites so that what is being disbursed is something that’s appropriate,” said Marty.
Following the FDA’s decision, it is a federal offense for physicians to administer the monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron or Eli Lilly. Their license could be revoked.
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