What new FDA guidelines for monoclonal antibodies mean for Arizona COVID patients

Published: Thursday, January 27, 2022 - 2:40pm
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The Food and Drug Administration has announced it’s limiting the use of two types of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19. But Arizona health care leaders say high-risk COVID-19 patients still have treatment options. 

Previously, there were three types of monoclonal antibody treatments being used in the U.S. But the virus has evolved since the treatments were developed. Two of the therapies don’t work as well at fighting the widespread omicron variant, so the FDA says it won't allow those two therapies to be used in most cases anymore.

The remaining treatment, Sotrovimab, is still effective against the omicron strain and is being administered, but it’s in short supply in Arizona.

“Because of the scarcity of the supply of this particular drug, there is a tiering of criteria that you must meet in order to get monoclonal antibody of that type," said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer of Banner Health, the state's largest hospital system. 

The treatment works best early after infection, so Bessel recommends contacting your doctor or visiting urgent care right away if you test positive to see if you fall into one of the risk categories that qualifies you for monoclonal antibodies.

The Arizona Department of Health Services says about 60 providers in the state are still able to provide Sotrovimab. Providers are listed at azhealth.gov/findtreatment.

"COVID-19 has proven to be predictably unpredictable over the past two years, and the loss of two monoclonal antibody treatments against it is yet another example of that," Jessica Rigler with the state health department wrote in a recent blog post. "But it’s good to know that treatments remain available that are effective at reducing the chances of severe illness from COVID-19." 

Rigler wrote that the state also has a limited supply of antiviral pills Paxlovid and Molnupiravir, and the injectable antiviral Remdesivir for some high-risk patients. 

Medical experts say the best way to prevent severe illness from COVID-19 is still vaccination.

→ Here's what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 in Arizona

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