This life-saving COVID-19 treatment is going unused because not enough people, including physicians, know about it.
UPDATE (Feb. 25, 2021): Some of the hospitals that are offering the treatments in Broward County: Memorial Pembroke, Pembroke Pines; Broward Health North, Pompano Beach; Broward Health, Coral Springs; Broward Health Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale; Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston; Holy Cross Hospital, Fort Lauderdale; Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston; Holy Cross Hospital, Fort Lauderdale.
In Palm Beach County: Bethesda East, Boynton Beach; Boca Regional Hospital, Boca Raton; Wellington Regional Medical Center, Wellington; Jupiter Medical Center, Jupiter.
Any primary care doctor can send a patient for antibody infusion. Most hospitals have hotlines to get a referral for the treatment. Or call the hospitals’ Emergency Departments to get one.
These hospitals in other parts of Florida have received supplies of Bamlan. Check the Florida Department of Health site, under New Treatments, for hospitals/availability.
Monoclonal antibody treatment, an experimental COVID-19 therapy given to former President Donald Trump, is a new treatment that South Florida hospitals have for preventing death and severe illness from the novel coronavirus, according to a Dec. 11 Miami Herald report.
However, time is of the essence: the patient needs to get the therapy, a single dose, within days of testing positive for COVID-19 and within ten days of showing symptoms. The earlier the better.
“The key message that I give to people about this is, if you don’t feel well, be in touch with your doctor. This can really turn things around, but it has to be given early,” Dr. Robert Goldszer, chief medical officer at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach told the Miami Herald.
According to the paper, hospital officials are saying that people who feel ill need to get tested for the virus and, if positive, call their physician or report to the emergency room as soon as possible.
Most of South Florida’s major hospitals say they have a good supply, though they have strict criteria to determine who gets it.
Anyone over the age of 65 and most people with an underlying health condition that could put them at risk—such as diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, a heart condition, immunodeficiency, or being on immunosuppressant drugs—can qualify to receive the therapies.
In Miami-Dade and Broward counties, hospitals including Mount Sinai Medical Center, Jackson Health System, Memorial Healthcare System, Broward Health, Baptist, and Larkin all said they have access to the therapies. Tampa General Hospital was the first hospital in the state to offer the monoclonal antibody treatment to COVID-19 positive patients in November.
According to the Sun Sentinel, in Palm Beach County, Boca Raton Regional Hospital and Bethesda Hospital West, which are owned by Baptist South Florida, have received the bamlanivimab antibody drug by Eli Lilly. Children 12 to 17 who meet the criteria for pediatric patients can get the treatment at Memorial’s Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.
No one will be charged for the drug, but patients may have to pay to have it administered.
“It Has to Be Given Early”
Physicians say the hour-long infusions of man-made, synthetic antibodies are only beneficial in the early stages of the infection, and can be counterproductive in the later stage, when patients need to be hospitalized.
“If you’re in a hospital, on a ventilator or in an [intensive care unit], it’s not shown to be helpful,” said Dr. Goldszer.
The treatment is made by two companies, Regeneron and Eli Lilly. The supply is being regulated by state health officials because the medicines are under an emergency authorization by the federal government. Both have been given temporary approval by the FDA for the duration of the pandemic. To win full approval, the manufacturers will need to submit additional research to completely define the drug’s safety and benefit.