Members of the Florida Republican Congressional delegation sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday asking for him to change his policies regarding monoclonal antibody drugs, calling current policies “shortsighted and burdensome.”
“I have received calls from many constituents who are desperately trying to find monoclonal antibody treatment, with no luck. The Governor has announced that there is a shortage of supply because the Biden Administration has been keeping the state of Florida from ordering directly from the manufacturer,” Congressman Gus Bilirakis said.
The letter which, included Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, claimed that federal allocation of monoclonal antibody treatments was insufficient and that the government was making it more difficult for Florida to purchase necessary treatments.
“Now, HHS’ decision to control the allocation and amount of mAbs a state or healthcare provider can receive, plus prohibiting these entities from ordering treatments directly from drug manufacturers, remains a serious concern,” the legislators wrote. “This type of volatility and heavy-handed approach is handicapping states who seek to be flexible and innovative to meet the needs of its patients, such as Florida has done.”
They claimed that Biden’s messaging on COVID-19 was out of line with the approach to making states dependent on the government for monoclonal antibody drugs. According to the letter, the centralization of the treatments was putting at risk patients in danger.
“Therefore, it is critical healthcare providers have flexibility and access to all authorized mAbs in order to prevent any shortages should hospitalizations begin to surge in the coming weeks,” the letter says, “This artificial shortage is further exacerbated by the HHS’ actions in September 2021 to prohibit states and healthcare providers from directly ordering mAbs from drug manufacturers.”
Calling the administration’s policies “burdensome” and “shortsighted,” the Florida Republicans asked HHS to return power to the states to purchase their own monoclonal antibody treatments.
Bilirakis said that he would continue “imploring” the Biden administration to stop “rationing” the treatments.
“President Biden has recently been forced to admit that pandemic response is best handled at the state level, and yet this contradictory policy is interfering with our state’s ability to ensure appropriate access to treatment that Floridians want,” he said.
In late December, Florida Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladopo accused the Biden admin of “actively preventing the effective distribution of monoclonal antibody treatments in the U.S.”
“The sudden suspension of multiple monoclonal antibody therapy treatments from distribution to Florida removes a health care provider’s ability to decide the best treatment options for their patients in this state,” Ladopo said in a letter to Becerra. “This shortsightedness is especially evident given that the federal government effectively prohibited states from purchasing these monoclonal antibodies and serving their populations directly.”
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has been a major proponent of various COVID-19 treatments, including the use of monoclonal antibody treatments.