- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2021

Republican lawmakers are demanding the Biden administration to cease rationing COVID-19 antibody treatments, saying the restrictions are disproportionately harming red states.

They sent a letter Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra calling on him to reverse the decision to ration COVID-19 monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments to their states.

The lawmakers said the rationing threatens their states with “a severe deficit of doses” of the antibody treatments, which has proven to be powerfully effective in fighting COVID-19 infections including aiding the recovery last year of then-President Trump.

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

Mr. Becerra did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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

A day earlier, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted the Biden administration for restricting monoclonal antibody treatments in several GOP-run states. Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, ultimately announced that he would purchase the therapies directly from pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, thereby circumventing HHS.

HHS announced on Sept. 3 that it would immediately limit orders and shipment of the antibody treatment, known as Regeneron, to department-approved sites due to the “substantial surge” in demand following the surge of the delta variant.

“It remains the goal of the federal government to ensure continued availability of these drugs for current and future patients,” HHS stated, adding the change was only temporary.

By Sept. 13, HHS transitioned from a direct ordering process to a distribution process coordinated by states and territories, noting the high demand for (mAb) drugs “particularly in areas of the country with low vaccination rates.”

“State and territorial health departments know best where a product is needed in their areas. Transitioning to a state/territory-coordinated distribution system gives health departments maximum flexibility to get these critical drugs where they are needed most,” HHS said.

Rep. Chip Roy, Texas Republican, told The Washington Times that “the feds need to get the hell out of our way.”

Mr. Roy on Thursday launched into a tirade against the Biden administration Thursday on “The Dana Show,” a nationally syndicated radio show hosted by Dana Loesch. He said doctors in Texas told him they face “obstacles” when trying to obtain the antibody treatment.

According to Mr. Roy, after he sent a letter to HHS inquiring about the limited supply of monoclonal antibodies being distributed in Texas, the Department announced HHS would brief congressional lawmakers on Friday afternoon.

“They’re trying to provide treatment, actually help people rather than these bastards, frankly in Washington, whose only solution is to offer mandates, and to say that if you’re not vaccinated, you should basically be left to die,” said Mr. Roy.

He added, “Instead, we have treatments that work. We know that they’re working. These monoclonal antibodies are working…and it became clear to me that they were starting to restrict the supply. Doctors started telling me, ‘Wait a minute, HHS is starting to make it impossible for us or difficult for us to get the supply.’”

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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