© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You Count on Us, We Count on You: Donate to WUSF to support free, accessible journalism for yourself and the community.
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Florida closes its monoclonal antibody sites after the FDA revokes use of the treatments

A nurse enters a monoclonal antibody site, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines.
A nurse enters a monoclonal antibody site in Pembroke Pines last August.

The FDA says therapies from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used because they don't work against omicron. Gov. Ron DeSantis says the action will "cost some Americans their lives."

The Florida Department of Health said late Monday it was immediately shutting down all monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 after the Food and Drug Administration revoked emergency use of two of the therapies.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says the action by the Biden administration will "cost some Americans their lives."

U.S. health officials have said antibody therapies from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used because they don't work against the omicron variant. The FDA said it could reauthorize their use if evidence changes.

"Unfortunately, as a result of this abrupt decision made by the federal government, all monoclonal antibody state sites will be closed until further notice," the Florida Department of Health said in a statement. “Florida disagrees with the decision that blocks access to any available treatments in the absence of clinical evidence.”

The action has already triggered pushback from DeSantis, who has made the treatments a primary part of his plan to fight the coronavirus.

“Without a shred of clinical data to support this action, (President Joe) Biden has forced trained medical professionals to choose between treating their patients or breaking the law,” DeSantis said in a statement. “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.”

DeSantis and state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo have said the treatments should be easily accessible in the state for people who get infected with other variants.

“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.'”

Earlier this month, the federal government notified the state that it was preparing to send 15,000 Regeneron doses to Florida after pressure from DeSantis. That was a reversal after a temporary pause on distributing monoclonal antibodies on Dec. 31.

About two dozen state-run sites had been open throughout Florida.

More than 2,000 appointments for the treatment were canceled in the state on Tuesday, according to DeSantis.

Anyone with appointments are being contacted regarding cancellations, the department said.

“If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please contact your health care provider for more information and resources on treatment options,” the department said in a statement.

GlaxoSmithKline's monoclonal antibody appears to work against omicron, the FDA said last month.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.