Sens. Scott, Rubio Question Limits on COVID Treatment

Sens. Scott, Rubio Question Limits on COVID Treatment A man enters the Regeneron Clinic at a monoclonal antibody treatment site. A man enters the Regeneron Clinic at a monoclonal antibody treatment site in Pembroke Pines, Florida. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Friday, 01 October 2021 07:57 AM

Florida’s Republican Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, are demanding answers after HHS restricted the availability of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 in Florida and other states.

The letter, dated Thursday, came after HHS enacted a policy of portioning the distribution of COVID-19 antibody treatments to some states experiencing a surge in infections.

“With the current surge of the COVID-19 delta variant, hospitalizations are up despite an increase in vaccination rate,” the two senators said. “Given this fact, we find the Department of Health & Human Services’ recent decision to change the availability of monoclonal antibodies for states and hospitals incredibly disturbing.

“This change in policy could reduce the availability of these lifesaving medications to Floridians as well as individuals and families in other states. Under this new policy, Florida’s allocation has been set at about 31,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies, despite the fact that Florida needs about 36,000 doses each week. This stark difference in doses available as compared to doses used, and rationing of supply, will jeopardize the health and safety of Floridians, increase hospitalizations, and could lead to higher mortality rates.”

Scott and Rubio additionally questioned what guidance is “HHS providing to states for how to allocate available monoclonal antibodies to providers?”

They also want to know what the administration has done to increase the manufacturing capacity for all emergency use authorized monoclonal antibody therapies.

Scott and Rubio questioned why HHS officials did not develop “a robust plan to promote and expand the supply of monoclonal antibody therapy.”

“The only way through this global pandemic is to ensure prevention and treatment options are available for every American,” Scott and Rubio said. “We are vaccinated, and we encourage every American to talk to their doctor and consider getting the vaccine. However, we know that for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, proper treatment with monoclonal antibodies can mean the difference between beating COVID-19 or succumbing to this terrible virus. Restricting the supply of lifesaving treatment is unethical and inexcusable.”

The two senators, along with five other Republican lawmakers, have introduced the Treatment Restoration for Emergency Antibody Therapeutics (TREAT) Act, which would prohibit obstacles to hospitals buying monoclonal antibody supplies directly.

If passed, the TREAT Act would stop HHS from restricting hospitals and other facilities from ordering monoclonal antibody treatments directly from manufacturers to meet local demand.