- Department of Health
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Eli Lilly
- Evan Jenne
- Fentrice Driskell
- Florida Department of Health
- Food and Drug Administration
- Ian Sams
- Jeremy Redfern
- Joe Biden
- Joe Ladapo
- Joseph Ladapo
- Ken Scheppke
- Kenneth Scheppke
- Ron DeSantis
- u s department of health and human services
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Gov. Ron DeSantis is condemning President Joe Biden’s administration for cutting off the federal supply of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now revoked its emergency use authorization for monoclonal antibody therapies created by Regeneron and Eli Lilly, calling it unlikely the drugs could treat the omicron variant of COVID-19. The decision marked the second time in as many months the federal government has halted the supply of the drug, again drawing criticism from Florida’s Republican Governor.
“Without a shred of clinical data to support this action, Biden has forced trained medical professionals to choose between treating their patients or breaking the law,” DeSantis said in a statement late Monday. “This indefensible edict takes treatment out of the hands of medical professionals and will cost some Americans their lives. There are real-world implications to Biden’s medical authoritarianism — Americans’ access to treatments is now subject to the whims of a failing President.”
Florida opened additional monoclonal antibody treatment sites last week after receiving shipments of the drug that had previously proven effective against treating COVID-19. But following the federal government’s reversal on Monday, the Florida Department of Health (DOH), led by Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, announced all state-run monoclonal antibody sites would be closed until further notice.
More than 2,000 treatment appointments scheduled for Tuesday have been canceled, according to DOH. The decision came without advance warning to states or health providers, they continued.
“In our field of medicine, when someone comes to you seeking a treatment that could save their life, it is essential to have treatment options to ensure health care providers can make the best decisions for their patients,” Ladapo said in a statement. “The federal government has failed to adequately provide the United States with adequate outpatient treatment options for COVID-19. Now, they are scrambling to cover up a failure to deliver on a promise to ‘shut down the virus.’”
Following news the federal government was again halting the two monoclonal antibody treatments, Florida Department of Health Deputy Secretary Kenneth Scheppke wrote a letter complaining to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), telling them that coordinating treatment requires continued planning and focus.
“Patients and health care practitioners deserve to make the best treatment choices regarding individual cases,” Scheppke said. “Sweeping decisions at the federal level are continuing to be made based on rapidly evolving science and continues to limit treatment options. This interferes directly with health care practitioners’ ability to make the best decisions for their patients.”
HHS spokesman Ian Sams tweeted that the department this week is providing more than 34,000 treatments to Florida that “actually do work,” adding emphasis to those words. Those treatments include 21,080 doses of the molnupiravir pill produced by Merck.
“Why is Gov. DeSantis more interested in promoting medicines that don’t work than urging people to take vaccines that do?” he wrote in another tweet.
DOH spokesman Jeremy Redfern repeatedly tweeted back at Sams, requesting that he share clinical data regarding molnupiravir.
The federal government had also previously rationed the monoclonal antibody supply, drawing criticism from DeSantis. Speaking in Jacksonville Monday, before the FDA’s decision, the Governor said the federal government had been messing with the drug’s supply for months.
“They’ve always been playing games on this,” DeSantis told reporters.
The omicron variant has appeared to withstand Regeneron’s casirivimab and imdevimab combo and Eli Lilly’s bamlanivimab and etesevimab combo, according to the Health Alert Network and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lab tests have shown molnupiravir is effective against omicron while Regeneron’s and Eli Lilly’s therapies have underperformed.
Florida House Minority Leader Evan Jenne on Monday compared DeSantis’ focus on monoclonal antibody therapies to the state’s prior focus on hydroxychloroquine, which DeSantis promoted as an effective treatment in 2020. Hydroxychloroquine proved to be “snake oil,” the Dania Beach Democrat told reporters as he bashed the Governor’s continued belief in monoclonal antibody therapy.
“It’s an unfortunate waste of taxpayer monies, but at the same time, we do want everybody to have treatments that will work,” Jenne said. “It’s just that this doesn’t work.”
Rep. Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat and the House Democrats’ Policy Chair, similarly called monoclonal antibody expenditures unnecessary because she said the treatment is ineffective.
“Sometimes information changes from day to day in a public health emergency,” Driskell said. “That’s the nature of an emergency.”
Officials confirmed 228,226 new cases in the seven-day period leading up to Sunday, the most recent day with available COVID-19 data. That was down from 361,937cases reported during the seven days prior. In total, there have been 5.3 million COVID-19 cases in Florida throughout the pandemic.