By Brandon Moseley
Congressmen Mo Brooks (R-AL05), Barry Moore (R-AL02), Mike Rogers (R-AL03), and Gary Palmer (R-AL06) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra conveying concerns about the Biden Administration’s throttling of monoclonal antibody treatments available to Alabamians.
“According to the University of Alabama in Birmingham researchers, monoclonal antibody (“mAb”) therapy reduces the risk of hospitalization by 70% in high-risk unvaccinated persons,” Brooks said. “But, the Biden Administration is throttling Alabama’s supply of mAb treatments according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The signers of this letter want answers from the Biden Administration about why they’re reducing the number of lifesaving treatments available to Alabamians.”
“This allocation change to the supply of monoclonals in the midst of a public health emergency delayed potentially life-saving treatments to many Alabamians,” said Moore. “The federal government implemented this change at a time when many Alabama hospitals were in the midst of a crisis from a rise in the delta variant. Adding even more government red tape to our hospitals at a time like this is inexcusable. This administration needs to stop playing politics when there are lives at stake.”
The four Alabama Congressmen wrote, “We write to convey Alabama’s concerns regarding allocation of monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments. As you know, mAb therapy is a proven and effective COVID-19 treatment. As such, we are concerned with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decision to change America’s mAb allocations.”
U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) recently chastised Sec. Becerra about the HHS decision to interfere with Alabama's supply of monoclonal antibodies during a recent Senate hearing.
“We know that monoclonal antibody treatments save lives so it is beyond me why the Biden administration has taken it into their own hands to throttle the supply of this lifesaving treatment,” Tuberville said. “I have yet to receive any answers to my questions for HHS about the reasoning behind these new restrictions, which is cause for concern, especially considering predominately Republican states are being impacted. Across Alabama, medical professionals and folks who got the virus have stressed to me the importance of ensuring this therapeutic is not caught up in partisan politics. I will do everything in my power to make sure that doesn’t happen, and those who need the treatment receive it without delay.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health explained that three monoclonal antibody regimens have received emergency use authorization for the outpatient treatment of mild to moderate cases of COVID-19. These are sotrovimab, bamlanivimab/etesevimab and casirivimab/imdevimab. The emergency approvals are limited to persons 12 years of age and older, who weigh at least 40 kg (88 pounds), who have a positive COVID-19 test, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. Casirivimab/imdevimab has been approved for post-exposure prophylaxis in high-risk persons.
The definition of high-risk may vary slightly for each product. These medicines should be given within 10 days of symptom onset or as soon as possible after exposure. ADPH has a list of healthcare providers who are able to provide monoclonal antibody treatments on their COVID crisis webpage.
ADPH reported that through Saturday, October 9, 14,857 Alabamians have died from COVID-19. The coronavirus global pandemic appears to be in rapid decline in the state. 5,366 Alabamians tested positive for the coronavirus in the last week, down substantially from a month ago. On Saturday 931 people were in Alabama hospitals suffering from COVID-19 complications. That is down from 2,890 on September 1.
There are presently three COVID-19 vaccines that have received emergency approval by the FDA. The vaccine is widely available across Alabama and has shown to be largely effective at avoiding the worst COVID symptoms - needing a ventilator to breathe and/or death. Contact your doctor or pharmacy about the vaccine.
Brooks is in his sixth term representing Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District. Brooks is a 2022 candidate for U.S. Senate. Barry Moore is in his first term representing Alabama’s Second Congressional District. Mike Rogers is in his tenth term representing Alabama’s Third Congressional District. Gary Palmer is in his fourth term representing Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.