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Florida Lawmakers Demand Biden Admin Reverse Cut In Monoclonal Antibody Supply

Finally, some Florida Republicans in Washington are demanding that the Biden administration reverse its abrupt decision to cut doses of the life-saving monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatment.

On Friday, eight GOP lawmakers sent Health and Human Services Department Secretary Xavier Becerra a letter calling on him to restore the state’s allotment, which the department slashed by more than half last week.

Monoclonal antibody, or mAb drugs, were given to former President Donald Trump when he contracted COVID last year, and even Dr. Anthony Fauci has praised them for helping patients recover.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said last week that roughly 100,000 Floridians have received mAb treatments, and that the drugs have helped significantly in reducing hospitalizations and deaths.

Yet the lawmakers note that the new HHS allocation policy will cause Florida “to face a deficit of tens of thousands of doses per week.”

“While these therapies are not a substitute for vaccines, they have prevented thousands of hospitalizations, including in breakthrough cases. It is a benefit that was recognized by President [Joe] Biden only a week ago when he announced plans to increase the average pace of shipment of mAb therapies by an additional 50 percent,” said the letter.

“This week’s announcement was dramatically out of step with the change several days later to reduce the amount of Florida and several other states’ allocation without prior notice.”

As The Free Press has reported, the move seemed counterintuitive to the development of the virus. Seven Southern states, including Florida, have consumed roughly 70 percent of the mAb supply, as the virus spiked during the summer.

DeSantis noted last week that this will shift in the winter months when Northerners are forced inside. 

“This decision,” the lawmakers continued, “was made without providing the Florida Department of Health or healthcare providers any time to prepare for this dramatic shift.”

“Prior to this week, health care providers were able to obtain mAb therapies directly from distributors. With no warning, that changed, leaving Florida providers scrambling for information and a path forward for previously scheduled appointments of this life-saving therapy.”

State health departments “cannot develop procedures or plan for problems they are not aware of. In the absence of clear, consistent communication, Florida and other states are now facing a situation where they have been denied the opportunity to develop an equitable, efficient state coordinated distribution system,” the letter continued.

“At a time when Florida’s hospitalization rates are rapidly declining, in part because of the State’s successful mAb deployment infrastructure, this is a dangerous reversal of the Department’s stance,” the lawmakers concluded. “We urge HHS to immediately reverse course on this decision.”

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, as well as Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Gus Bilirakis, Bill Posey, Carlos Gimenez, Scott Franklin, and Neal Dunn.

There was no indication any Florida Democrats joined in questioning the HHS decision.

The Floridians’ letter to Becerra echoes one GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas sent to the HHS secretary last week, as The Free Press reported.

Roy had said that the “last thing HHS should be doing is impeding on providers’ ability to best serve their patients, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and he noted that Becerra’s decision to cut the supply “will further prevent doctors from being able to treat their patients and prevent their patients from receiving the care they need when they need it.”

“The federal government should not be in the business of dictating healthcare,” he added. “The American people deserve answers on why and under which authority HHS made this decision.”

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