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Florida's surgeon general sends terse letter to Health & Human Services concerning monoclonal antibodies

Dr. Joseph Ladapo says state facing 'life-threatening shortage of treatment options'
Dr. Joseph Ladapo closeup at introductory news conference
Posted at 11:31 AM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 11:31:58-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's squabble with the federal government over the state's access to monoclonal antibodies isn't showing any signs of ending.

State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo sent a letter Tuesday to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, saying the federal government is "actively preventing the effective distribution" of the treatments.

MORE: What's the difference between COVID-19 antibodies and monoclonal antibodies?

In the letter, Ladapo lays out how the state created 25 monoclonal antibody therapy sites across Florida in August.

Westgate Park Monoclonal antibody sign
A sign was posted at Westgate Park near West Palm Beach on Aug. 18, 2021, indicating the location of a monoclonal antibody site.

The surgeon general said that by mid-September the sites had provided treatment to nearly 100,000 patients and were serving 5,000 patients a day.

Ladapo claims "without any advanced notice" that the Health and Human Services substantially reduced the number of monoclonal antibodies being allocated to Florida.

Earlier this year, DeSantis called the change a raw deal and vowed to work directly with drug company GlaxoSmithKline to circumvent federal officials by purchasing its monoclonal treatment, Sotrovimab.

Health and Human Services said in September that they made the shift in policy because of a limit in supply, no longer allowing hospitals and treatment sites to order the early COVID-19 therapies directly.

"However, the lack of allocation of this life-saving treatment from the federal government continues to cause another immediate and life-threatening shortage of treatment options to the State of Florida as the Omicron variant spreads throughout the state," Ladapo said in his Tuesday letter.

The surgeon general called the Biden administration's policy a "shortsightedness" by not allowing states to purchase monoclonal antibodies and serve populations directly.

"Florida can expand treatment options for patients by distributing therapeutics to providers working in areas with a low prevalence of Omicron or clinics capable of variant screening," Ladapo wrote.

Florida has seen a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases in December, which included all seven South Florida counties having a level of transmission listed as high as the omicron variant spreads.