DeSantis: Patients, doctors should decide which COVID therapy is best, not the feds

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is not letting up after the federal government said two of the most common therapies for treating COVID-19 — available until recently — should not be used because they don’t work against the omicron variant.

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis said patients, with their doctors, should be free to choose the monoclonal antibody treatment that works best for them.

“It’s their decision,” he said in a room full of reporters at the north campus of Miami Dade College.

Blaming President Joe Biden, DeSantis said the federal government rushed the decision to limit the use of the medications produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly to only when the patient is likely to have been infected with or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments.

DeSantis also said the decision was made without sufficient data to back it up, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday the most recent information and data available show “these treatments are highly unlikely to be active against the omicron variant.”

Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to account for more than 99% of cases in the United States as of Jan. 15, the FDA said in a statement.

Regeneron and Eli Lilly have both put out statements saying their monoclonals are not medically appropriate to treat patients with mild to moderate COVID symptoms after omicron became the predominant variant. The American Medical Association also endorsed the FDA’s move to change the drugs’ emergency use authorization.

“They say they are predicted to not work against omicron, yet it must be confirmed in clinical studies,” said Kenneth Scheppke, deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health.

Alternative therapies distributed in the U.S. — including the antiviral drugs Paxlovid, Molnupiravir and Remdesivir — are expected to work against omicron, but DeSantis said in the press conference that the Biden administration is not sending enough doses to Florida.

“They are not giving us nearly enough,” DeSantis said.

Florida Department of Health Deputy Secretary Kenneth Scheppke talks to reporters about the FDA decision to limit the use of monoclonal antibodies treatment during a press conference at Miami Dade College North Campus in Miami, Florida on Wednesday, January 26, 2022.
Florida Department of Health Deputy Secretary Kenneth Scheppke talks to reporters about the FDA decision to limit the use of monoclonal antibodies treatment during a press conference at Miami Dade College North Campus in Miami, Florida on Wednesday, January 26, 2022.
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